Friends, God has me in a season of waiting, of going underground. And you know what that means? Seeds. Roots. Trust in the darkness. Sprouts that lead to shoots, to blooms. Something new is coming. And not something I’m working in myself—as if such a thing could be good—but something God is working in me.
I once told a friend that a bud is like a promise that won’t be denied. But before the bud, comes the seed. Such as: A seed of desire—so long as it’s born of and submitted to God. The seed of suffering—which tests our faith and brings forth perseverance, character, and hope. A seed of encouragement from a friend—which very well may represent a timely word from God. A circumstantial change. A scripture that jumps off the page. A prayer inspired by God that He’s just begging to answer.
In this moment, certain promises are waiting in seed form in my life. How about you? What seeds is God working in you? Do they bring you excitement, joy—expectation? Or have you discounted the day of small beginnings—the mustard seed of faith? Are you stuck in the darkness of a tomb or an ark, unable to see beyond the endless floodwaters or the musty grave?
Where God allows “death,” I believe He means to bring life, presuming we cooperate—submit. If we trust and abide in Him, whatever “death” He brings will always lead to something better. And even when we don’t fall in line, He can change our hearts and minds—and renovate our perspectives—just as He did with the prodigal son.
Friends, is there something God is asking you to set aside? Has a door of seeming opportunity been closed against your will? When God hems you in, it’s meant to bring about fresh growth—new life. No one ever said it was pleasant navigating the birth canal. Not pleasant, but necessary for new life.
Over the past year and half, God has shattered my idols in order to bring emotional healing and unprecedented freedom. He’s inspired me to trust, to believe in prayer like never before. He gave me a story to write—then bled the inspiration necessary to carry it through to the end. But even in this I glorify God. For where, once, I would’ve despaired at the sacrifice of my idol, my stories, I now glory in the freedom to trust God’s perfect plan for each day.
He took my writing away at a time I was growing busy in other ways. And in the loss, taught me lessons more valuable than any published novel in the world. Because I’m growing in Him. Seeing evidence of His work in my life—and O how faithful He’s been!
He took the writing, before giving me another task I hadn’t expected—nor had I known how much it would bless me. He took the class I was facilitating at church before I knew I would need the reprieve. And then He allowed a strange Christmas Eve day gift in the form of an ER visit far from home, but not far from family.
In the waiting room, intense pain guided the essence of my pitiful prayers—“Let it be soon, Lord Jesus. Give me a room.” Yet there was no room. Ironic. Not enough rooms in the ER. And my acute dilemma, while incredibly painful (and easily fixable—at least temporarily, or so I soon learned), wasn’t immediately life threatening; I didn’t merit urgent care. I was forced to wait.
Now I can’t stop thinking about the symbolism of waiting in the “waiting room” during a season of waiting. Amidst that lingering pain, I considered fellow Christians in nations hostile to Christ, suffering—tortured. “How can they stand it?” Because I wasn’t standing my own pain very well; I could think of little else. Little else but to pray and hope that the next name called would be mine. I was “helpless,” you see—but not without Help.
The Bible says we’re blessed when we’re persecuted. But does that mean the vast majority of Christians in the US aren’t blessed in this way? This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. Because ultimately, all persecution comes from the same source: our adversary, the father of lies, demon Lucifer himself.
Just because we aren’t persecuted by men doesn’t mean we don’t suffer for Christ. When we pray in the quiet of our home, does Satan not see our faith—our devotion—and scream bloody revenge? I think of Job, who didn’t suffer what we would consider traditional persecution—and yet he was blessed in the end. And not just in worldly terms: the restored fortunes and more, the flourishing family. No. The greatest blessing he received was a greater revelation of the Great I Am.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The word for “trials” here can mean a temptation or a test and includes disaster and affliction. With Job as our model, a trial could be physical violence by men (e.g., persecution), natural disaster, or sickness and disease. And these are the things we’re to count as pure joy? Yes.
It’s not the good times that force us to rely on God, but the times of difficulty and distress. Such trials test our faith—pose the unstated question: What do you REALLY believe? Do we really believe God is good? Do we really believe He has our best interests at heart? Do we really trust Him to work on our behalf? Even, perhaps, if our own sins have contributed to our lack of success?
Perhaps the answer to those questions for you turns out to be “no,” you don’t believe. If so, don’t despair. Looking back on my own journey, I recall many times of uncertainty, of questioning and doubt. The truth is, the success of man’s journey has never depended “on human desire or effort, but [rather] on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Do you understand that the very faith God tests amidst these trials is a gift straight from heaven? Our goal has never been to become self-made individuals, but to let the Potter have His way—to be His handiwork. If the seed of faith God granted wasn’t enough to sustain our wayward hearts through the last trial, that doesn’t mean God failed. Only He knows what seeds of truth each trial implanted in our hearts—gifts to be unpackaged when the time is right.
Take a look again at the words of James 1:3-4, this time in the Berean Literal Translation: “knowing that testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The word for PRODUCES means “to work out” (a la Philippians 2:12, see below) and seems to indicate an ongoing process of refinement. HELPS Word Studies says, “2716 katergázomai (from 2596 /katá, “down, exactly according to,” intensifying 2038/ergázomai, “work, accomplish”) – literally, “work down to the end-point,” i.e. to an exact, definite conclusion (note the prefix, 2596 /katá); bring to decisive finality (end-conclusion).”
Just because we haven’t reached that definite end-point yet doesn’t mean we won’t.
Too often we may look at either ourselves or others and judge them for where they are along the journey. Perhaps that judgment itself is an indication of where we or they are, since I’ve glimpsed what it is to move past such mindsets. The point is, none of us has arrived at that perfect decisive end—yet. Rather, in Philippians 2:12, we’re told to katergazesthe—to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But do we really work our own salvation to a definite end? Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who energōn—who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”
And “energéō (from 1722 /en, “engaged in,” which intensifies 2041 /érgon, “work”)” means—according to HELPS Word Studies—“properly, energize, working in a situation which brings it from one stage (point) to the next, like an electrical current energizing a wire, bringing it to a shining light bulb.”
If the analogy provokes thoughts of the Vine and the Branches—“without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)—that’s good. Because God not only plants every seed—or grafts every wilted shoot. He also provides the energizing force behind each growth spurt. If our trust is misplaced (take Philippians 2:12 without the next verse), no amount of our own work will bring us to that next advanced stage.
So… If you’ve observed a seed of God’s work in your life, put your trust in Him, ask for His help, and then—and only then, looking to Him, leaning on Him—work out your own salvation. To be sure, those who seek God—who submit and persist—can be confident of this: “that He who began a good work in [them]”—that good work being a seed, rich with a promise—“will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
That, my friends, is the power of a seed.
I’d love to hear in the comments whatever seeds God is working or already worked in your life. Let’s encourage one another with testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the waiting.