Growing Faith

A few days ago I looked outside at our backyard and noticed the winter grass we had planted back in the fall was beginning to look dry.

Here in Arizona, we reseed our yards in order to have green grass in the winters. A completely foreign concept, I am sure, if you live in a state with cold, snowy winters! For me, planting winter grass means less dead, dry grass being dragged into the house by my little boys, which by the way is such a pain to clean up! Every fall, we (I say “we” but really my husband Billy) reseed our backyard and plant winter grass. My 4 year old Connor has become very intrigued with this process in recent years and has now become Billy’s little helper!

This reseeding process begins by first preparing the soil. So Billy mows the old, dry lawn down real low and then marches across the whole yard breaking up the ground with his baseball cleats. I know it’s not the conventional way to “till” the soil but it works! FYI… “tilling” means breaking up and loosening the soil. I needed to look that one up because it is a farming term and I really have never planted anything in my life!

The next step is to water the ground like crazy to make it moist and ready for the seed to be spread. In order to spread the seed, Billy will take handfuls of seed and toss it across the entire yard. Again, probably not the conventional way but it works! This is Connor’s favorite part because he gets to help by throwing seeds all over the place…and the best part?…he won’t get in trouble for it!

Then we cover the yard with top soil…we have used manure in the past and boy does that stink bad! The top soil prevents the birds from coming and snatching up the seeds.

And finally, we water the grass on a timed schedule, pray and wait. Pray? This past fall we began this reseeding process too late and we weren’t sure if the grass was going to grow. So, yes, pray! Wait? Definitely not a word in my 4 year old’s vocabulary.

The next morning, Connor raced to the window to see the grass and to his disappointment he only saw dirt. He couldn’t understand why there was no grass. I began to explain to him that the seed was underneath the soil and we need to wait patiently and pray for it to grow. We know the seed was planted even though we couldn’t see it. It was watered and was exposed to sunlight and now we must believe that it will grow. Day 2…no grass. He did this for about 3 more days, until the 5th day when we actually saw a few pieces of green grass that had grown! Oh, the joy on his face, this mommy will not forget!

As I look at my relationship with God, I have seen my faith and trust in God grow stronger through the years. But there are times even now that my faith doesn’t feel so strong especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.  Funny how you may not always have strong faith for every challenging circumstance, but if you depend on God through those difficult times he will meet you where you are at and your faith grows stronger.

When it comes to our faith growing, there are some important components. Just as we need good soil, water, sunlight, prayer and patience for our winter grass to grow, we similarly need God’s seed (his message of Christ) to be planted in good soil, watered and exposed to the light of God’s Word, then prayer and patience in our circumstances for our faith to grow.

Good Soil

Just as the first step is to prepare the soil for the grass seed, the first step in growing faith is to examine our hearts for God’s seed- his message of Jesus (aka God’s Word) to be planted. Luke 8:11 tells us that God’s seed is the word of God and it is important that it is planted in good soil.

I love the parable of the soils in Luke 8:4-18.  Some of you may be very familiar with this parable and some of you may not and that is ok! A parable compares something familiar to something unfamiliar. Jesus spoke in parables to help us understand spiritual truth by using everyday objects and relationships.

In this particular parable, Jesus describes 4 types of soils. The four soils represent four different responses to God’s message which therefore, represent 4 different conditions of our hearts. People respond differently to God’s message because they are in different states of readiness. For the sake of time, I will summarize the 4 “soils”. I highly recommend reading this passage in Luke 8:4-18 for a more detailed perspective.

The 1st “soil” discusses God’s seed falling on ground that is hard and has no chance to take root because it is quickly snatched up by the devil. The 2nd “soil” describes the seed falling on ground that is rocky and thus shallow also preventing it from taking root. The 3rd “soil” illustrates the seed falling on soil that is among thorns and weeds which may take root but is “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures” and therefore do not mature. Finally, the 4th “soil” describes the seed falling on good soil so that it may take root.

The first step for growing faith is for God’s seed – his message- to take root in your heart which happens when the soil is good.

What condition is your heart in today? Which soil best describes you?

Water/Sunlight

Once God’s seed has taken root (which basically means accepting God’s message) in your life, there are some important steps for your faith and trust in God to grow.

Many people have accepted God’s word but continue to live their entire lives with little or no faith. Once we have received God’s seed in our hearts, we must take action for our faith to grow.

In the same way, faith by itself, if it does not prove itself with actions, is dead. James 2:17

You see his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. James 2:22 NLT

As you recall in my opening paragraphs, water and sunlight were key components for the planted grass seed to grow in our backyard. In order for God’s seed to grow, we need God’s word. We must take action…“water” the seed and expose it to the “light” by reading God’s word. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul planted the seed of the gospel message in people’s hearts. Apollos’ role was to water- to help the believers grow stronger in their faith.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NIV

You see, it’s not enough just to “believe in God”…believe in his existence. We need to “believe God” …believe what his word says! The more we read God’s word, the more we will believe and consequently, our faith and trust in him will grow!

So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17NASB

Maybe God’s seed is planted in good soil in your life but it needs more water or exposure to light.

How often do you read God’s word? Our goal should be each day but honestly, a husband, 2 little boys, and a fulltime job…and now a blog? It just doesn’t happen every single day! But I try to use as many resources as I can like devotions sent to my email (similar to sweeter than honey blog), sharing a biblical concept with my children, or even incorporating a scripture I can focus on throughout the day. Whatever it takes to get a word from God’s Word!

Prayer and Patience

This is the most difficult part for me and maybe for you too. Why is it that most of the time we don’t get our prayers answered right away? Because if God answered your prayers right away or yanked you out of your difficult circumstances immediately (because he certainly does have the power to do so!), you wouldn’t need faith. Our circumstances give us the opportunity to draw closer to him to trust him more.

Think of when you rely on God most? Is it during the good times or the bad?

And finally, we need patience which doesn’t mean to just wait but to wait without complaining, getting angry or upset. It is through this waiting period that your faith will continue to grow.

Reflecting Points:

1)    Has God’s seed taken root in your life?

2)    Do you find yourself facing situations in your life with little or no faith?

3)    Are you reading God’s word on a regular basis?

 

Action Points:

1)    Determine what type of soil God’s seed has fallen on and if it has taken root. If it has not taken root, what do you need to do to prepare your heart to receive God’s message?

2)    Begin a habit of reading God’s word on a regular basis. And don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen every single day!

3)    Pray for your faith and trust to grow. If you have doubts, pray to overcome your unbelief! (Matt 9:24)

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