Remember The Carrot Seed (1945), Ruth Krauss’s classic children’s book that Crockett Johnson illustrated? A little boy plants a seed, then waits—and waits—for it to grow. Every day he checks and waters it. He makes sure it has plenty of sunshine and pulls the weeds around it. Every day a family member walks by and says, “It won’t come up.” But the boy stays focused, waiting for signs of the carrot seed’s growth. One day he finally spots a green leafy sprout. It keeps growing bigger until the boy pulls a huge carrot from the ground. His family stands dumbfounded by the mystery of the seed that actually “came up.”
The Carrot Seed and Jesus’ Mark 4 parable both describe what happens when you plant a seed, turn it over to the natural course of things, stay close, keep watch, and root it on (pun intended).
Releasing control of our work is hard. Whether it’s finally submitting that proposal you poured yourself into for months or dropping your child off at her first college dorm room, both involve “letting your heart go walking around outside your body.” Taking a risk, releasing control, and trusting the process are all exercises that turn one’s heart into fertile ground for the growing kingdom. Remember, the kingdom of God is within you.
Now, it’s entirely possible, after you release your work, that things will not work out. Your proposal might flop in committee. Your college-aged child might flunk her classes and withdraw at the semester’s end. But that is not the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is within you. It’s the seed planted and patiently tended that then emerges from the ground of your being, ready to be harvested and given to your colleagues, to your struggling child, your community, your world.
What signs of growth do you see in yourself?
God, make my heart fertile ground so that the seed of your kingdom will grow. Help me release my inner and outer work to you, and joyfully wait for your harvest. Amen.