From a Seed

He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of of the air come and make nests in its branches. -- Matthew 13:31-32

Yesterday I had to cut down a tree that a previous owner planted too close to my house.  Each Spring its branches have to be cut back because they find their way under the eave, often working to pull the gutter away.  But it was the roots that were causing the the most trouble having grown up against the foundation.   So after I fell the tree, I dug around the base and started working to remove the stump and root ball.

Last year I planted two new trees (much further away from the house, but still in a place to cast a shadow our our home during the late afternoon).  These two trees are very small and need support until they can establish a strong root system.  As I was digging, I realized that the tree close to our house, which took me all day to remove, started just as one of these little trees did.  Had I wanted to remove this tree when it was first planted, I could have pulled it up from the ground with little to no effort.  But now however, the roots were so great that most of them were left in the ground even as I had removed the tree.

At one point, Matthew records Jesus sharing parables.  In one of those parables, Jesus shows how from just a small mustard seed, a giant tree can spring up and grow, eventually providing shade and shelter for birds.  This tree will become strong and sturdy, but it all started from something small, humble.  Jesus is using this parable to show what the Church looks like, starting small (from just a few disciples) but eventually becoming large, established, and strong.  But the parable also offers a nice image for our own growing faith.

When we talk about aging with the Lord, we call it growing.  When we first become believers we are much like that little tree that needs support to survive the wind gusts and heavy winters.  Our roots are not well established.  But as we walk with Christ, reading Scriptures, praying, and learning through living life with other believers, the network of roots finds strength.  We grow and eventually the little sticks and wire that help prop us up can come away.  Over time, we provide shade; we become something that can give shelter to others.  It starts with something small, a little seed deposit of faith. 

And something else to consider, Luke 17: 5-6 says, "The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'  And the Lord said, 'If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you" (ESV).  

*The photo was taken by Stefan Wernli and is registered under a Creative Commons License.