And now we can turn at last to see in our picture-book the result of all this fading and stripping and breaking: no outcome as yet that will catch the eye of sense, yet full of eternal possibilities.
What a marvel it is, this seed |endynamited| for its ministry! Just an atom of whiteness, folded up in its smooth brown shell. Opposite p.35 you see the two tiny specks in the splitting pod; does it not seem incredible that anything can come out of them? Could we imagine anything more insignificant? And yet they are brimful of a vitality that will last (given the necessary conditions) |while the earth remaineth,| through harvest after harvest in ever-widening circles.
Equally unimportant from the point of view of |the natural man| is the heavenly seed that God gives His people to scatter. |The things of the Spirit of God ... are foolishness unto him.| |The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.| His beginnings are always very feeble things.
It is out of the hour of its greatest apparent extremity, moreover, that the seed launches out to its ministry. There was a time, a few weeks earlier, when you could, if you examined it, trace the future plant in embryo; the two seed-leaves and the rootlet were all visible in shades of exquisite green; but all this dries up when maturity comes, till there is not a sign of life left in it. Everything that is brilliant and beautiful is withdrawn and shrouded in the |bare grain| when we strip off the sheath and hold it in our hand: everything has gone down in defiant faith to the last ebb. Nothing is left to it, as far as we can discern, but the invisible, miracle-working power of God. Shall we not learn of the dried-up seed, to rejoice when in our seed-sowing we are shut up to God alone -- when every shade of hope and promise to the eyes of sense, have faded like the baby seed-leaves in the germ? |So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.|
To sow heavenly seed means to give way to Him in the promptings that are sure to come as soon as He finds us broken enough for Him to be able to send them. It is a direct passing on of that which comes to us from God, stripped of all self-effort: the message spoken |not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth|: the work done |striving according to His working which worketh in us mightily|: the prayer that knows not what it should pray for as it ought, and yields itself to His |intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.| These are the things which, small as they are in this world's count, have the very pulse of eternity beating through them. Nothing but that which He inspires can carry quickening power: no experience -- no spirituality even, can set the spark alight. It is not the seed-vessel that can do the work, any more than a bit of leaf-stalk or flower petal, but simply and only the seed. |It is the Spirit that quickeneth.| |I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life.| Hallelujah!
Let us watch the seed-shedding, and see what it can teach us about sowing to the Spirit.