November 6, 2020

Seed Time and Harvest

The Seed of Worship

Here is the story of a farmer and the seed. If you’ve read my book, “The Making of a Dragonfly,”  you have already met the farmer, whose name is Patty. She was a co-worker who introduced me to the “real” Jesus. Her life song was a melody of notes expressing the beauty of God in the everyday things of life. The sunrise and the sunset. Telephone poles that looked like a cross. Autumn leaves and walks through the forest with her dad – yes, she echoed those back to walks in the forest with Father God. Her hunger for God spilled over into me. True, we worked together, and our desks were positioned about 6’ apart (long before we knew about social distancing). I came to know her from the inside out – her heart is truly more beautiful than her stunning appearance! She planted within me a seed of desire to know God like she knew Him. I was fertile ground, and perhaps God used me to teach her how to farm.

A Deep Dive

Since I’ve written about my beautiful friend in the book mentioned above, I won’t go into the repetitive details here, but I will add a little to the story of Mary and Patty (pictured above in 2015). As we went through the Experiencing God Bible Study together, she continued to draw me deeper and deeper into the ways of God.

One weekend, she invited me to go to Arkansas to a women’s retreat weekend. She wanted to expose me to women who walked deeper in their faith and knew God from firsthand experience. Again, she was planting seeds in the fertile soil of my heart. That weekend was pivotal for me. The leaders had erected a “tent of meeting” on the campsite. (Note: When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God gave him instructions on how to build a “tabernacle” in the wilderness. In this “tent of meeting,” God began to teach the Israelites about holiness, honor, and respect for the Holy of Holies – the One True God.)

A Seed to Learn

As I stepped into this replica in Arkansas, I began to realize the holiness of God, the true depth of His spirit and how He wanted to connect with me. I won’t go into the details of this because, if you’re unfamiliar with the book of Exodus and this story, you may think I stepped into an occult. I didn’t. It was more like I stepped back into the beauty of the Old Testament and the way God met with His people before Jesus came into the world.

The point here is, Patty planted a seed in me to understand the Old Testament. I had never read the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi and didn’t really understand the need, since that was the Old Law. That planted seed took root quickly and I began to pour through the scriptures and realized the entire Bible is one story pointing to Jesus. I could not get enough.

The seed took root and produced seeds of its own. I began leading a group of women through the process of reading and discussing the Bible, from beginning to end. Now my rooted seed was planting new seeds into the fertile ground of more hearts.

Seeds of Hope

Then, in my broken years when I struggled to breathe, Patty invited me to the high peaks of the Adirondack mountains. She gathered groups of women each year for five years, and we bagged a few peaks together.  I would lead  women in lessons about life, God, the beauty of surrender, and the cost of obedience. In my brokenness, Patty planted new seeds into my fertile heart. Seeds of hope. Her belief in God’s power invited me into a place of  intimacy and ministry where my vulnerability brought healing into the lives of others. Those seeds rooted and are in the beginning stages of producing more fruit. That’s Patty – always farming. Always sowing.

Becoming a Farmer

Since 1999 when Patty planted the first seed in my heart, God has led me into public speaking, writing, podcasting, publishing, leading retreats, and other things that matter but are not necessary to make my point. In each of these areas of life, God uses me as His seed bearer to plant seeds into the hearts of others. Some of those seeds take root. And the rooted plants, established in the foundation of God, produce their own seeds and spread them to others. We can all be farmers. We can all spread seeds.

The Harvest is at Hand

For years, I have allowed God to work through me to plant seeds. Not because I want a big field of plants, but because I want to be all God has created me to be. I don’t want to allow fear to interfere with my destiny; I want to be stretched by God so I reach my full potential. To plant seeds and produce fruit, with the roots of these seeds to run deep into the foundation of Christ, where they are healthy and nurtured, and established. Then the fruit will be plentiful and healthy and will reproduce in the same way.

And do you know what? After 20 years of planting seeds, I am beginning to see the harvest come in. I see it in my children and my grandchildren, in my ministry partners and the friends I have made through the years, and mostly in my own life. To my surprise, I am kinder and gentler; I don’t respond to insults or criticism as quickly and I certainly don’t think the world revolves around me. Being a drama queen is in my past, as is trying to manipulate and control others to behave in the way I expect or desire. That’s an abundant harvest indeed.

Blessings of Farming

God has used the seeds Patty sowed into me. Because of her farming skills, all the seeds I plant come right back to the farmer who planted that first seed – Patty. Though she lives many states away and though I only see her once every two years, her impact in my life has touched eternity. Every seed the Lord plants through me is an offspring of the seed Patty planted into me twenty years ago.

And, when we all get to heaven and the Lord is speaking to each of us of our impact in the earthly realm, Patty is a partaker in every seed God has sown through me, and she receives a special “thank-you” from the Lord for her obedience in farming. This is not an “ode to joy” for Patty; rather, it is a praise to the Lord for sending her into my life to plant a seed of knowing Him. He did the work. She walked in obedience.

Farming the Fertile Soil

We are all farmers. We all have someone who planted seeds of encouragement and faith into our hearts. Each of us have the opportunity to plant seeds into the soil of the hearts of others. Seeds are words of encouragement, prayers, songs, deeds, love, compassion, and grace. They are invitations to attend a Bible study or a church service or a home group. You never know which seeds will take root, so keep planting them. Be a farmer. You will eventually be able to recognize the fertile ground, and see fruits from the seeds you have planted.

I told Patty recently (she lives in upstate New York and I’m in Texas) about my move into the publishing world. I told her, “Everything I do with publishing comes back to you as the farmer. You started me on this journey to Christ. Though you think you have no impact in what I’m doing, let me assure you. All this fruit is split between our two baskets! Our harvest is plentiful.”

Now, go out and sow some seeds. And in due time, you will see the harvest.

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Mary Ethel Eckard is an author, speaker and teacher called to encourage Christians in their faith journey. She is passionate about sharing Christ with all who will listen. Through her captivating testimony of relying on God's strength and guidance through the heights and depths of life, Mary helps others find freedom from the shame and pain of their past. Mary resides in Frisco, Texas and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

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