Last month I planted some roses from cuttings. It was my first attempt to grow roses, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I wouldn’t see the flowers until next year. But, to my surprise, yesterday, I saw the first few red roses began to bloom. I was delighted to see the blossoms so fast—in just over a month.
Sophie says I must have a green thumb. I don’t think so. I believe the flowers bloom according to the natural process God has set up for them. You follow the process, and as long as you don’t do something to destroy it, the flowers will show up in due time.
What if blessings are like flowers? You plant the seeds, and in due time you harvest the blessings? Most people treat blessing as luck, something you have no control of, like winning the lottery. The truth is, we are all blessed as long as we don’t jinx it.
From the foundation of the earth, we are blessed to be created, we are blessed to be born, we are blessed to live, and we are even blessed to live happily ever after. However, we jinxed it at every stage of life. How do we avoid jinxing our blessings?
If you think you have messed up in the past, let bygones be bygones. What’s important is how to stop the sabotage as we move forward and embrace the divine blessings. So, today, let’s talk about how to navigate the path of Providence.
[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper. You are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]
The scripture lesson is from the Gospel According to Mark 4:26-34. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]
26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. (Mark 4:26-34).
In these two parables, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to harvest and abundance. God’s blessing is abundant enough not only for you to enjoy but also to share. As King David said, “My cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5b).
The question is, how do you receive the blessings? How do you let God’s blessings overflow on your cup? The first secret is,
1. Trust the Process
The first parable says that after the person sowed the seeds,
“and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” (Mark 4:27).
This person sounds like me. I planted the rose and didn’t know how it grows. I just dug the soil and plugged the rose cuttings into the ground a month ago, and this morning I took my camera to take pictures of the first red roses.
What frustrates me is that I didn’t have to do anything. I felt I don’t deserve these roses. I thought I have to work harder to see these flowers. Every day, I checked the plants to make sure they are watered and weeded, and I went online to learn how to grow roses.
However, Jesus is saying that all you have to do is sleep and rise night and day, and nature will take care of it. We don’t have to know how they grow. We just sow the seeds and let nature does its job.
That is a very uncomfortable verse for the busy and hardworking Americans in the Northeast because we believe we must work hard to harvest abundance. As a result, many people sacrifice their health and relationships to keep up with the Joneses.
Of course, I am sure most of us know it’s foolish to keep up with the Joneses, but we still end up working too hard to jinx the blessings. Statistics show that 90% of the doctors’ office visits in America have something to do with work-related stress.
Let’s say if you eventually have an abundant harvest, but you don’t have the health to enjoy it, is it still a blessing to you? No, of course not. Jesus said,
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Mat 16:26).
Similarly, I would like to ask,
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his health?” That includes emotional health, physical health, or even spiritual health.
This verse does not mean that we do nothing to harvest abundance. You still need to go out and sow the seeds. What it means is that you work smarter rather than harder. You work according to the natural process God has put together from the beginning of time.
We do our part and let God do God’s part. The problem is we tend to do God’s part. Remember Abraham’s story? God promised Abraham a son, but Sarah did not get pregnant for a long time to come. So, they decided to help God out by letting Abraham have a child with their servant, Hagar. They named him Ishmael.
About a decade or so later, Sarah got pregnant and gave birth to Isaac, the promised son of Abraham. They then had to drive out Hagar and Ishmael, and it became the beginning of the biggest sibling rivalry in human history.
Thus, Abraham’s intervention to help God originated a heartbreaking story followed by thousands of years of conflicts in the Middle East.
Jesus used the parable of the farming process to teach us to trust God in fulfilling God’s promise to bless us. As sure as the roses are going to bloom, we must trust God to fulfill God’s promises. Of course, the length of time is different for each case.
2. Know Your Worth
The second reason we jinx God’s blessings is that we don’t know our worth in God’s eyes. Jesus said,
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Mat 6:26).
Jesus reminds us that we are precious in God’s eyes—much more than the birds in the air. So it’s not only ignorant to overwork but also an insult to God’s love for us. God has made nature do the work for us so that we can rest, play, and enjoy God’s grace.
“The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.” (Mark 4:28).
Lack of trust and self-worth have created a lot of emotional problems. It makes us think, “If something is to happen, I have to make it happen.” The result is we become technologically progressive but emotionally regressive.
Based on the WHO and NIH data, more than 70% of today’s population have various mental health issues. If we are stressed out doing what we are not meant to do, we don’t have the mental capacity to harvest the blessing when it comes. Then Jesus said,
“But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”(v. 29).
Jesus describes the farmer as if he was well-rested, full of energy, and ready to go out to harvest the crop. King Solomon said, “There’s a time to plant and a time to harvest.” (Ecc 3:2b). God loves you so much that he created a leisure moment in between.
A modified version of the serenity prayer based on this parable would be,
God grant me the serenity
To trust God’s part of work;
To do my part of work;
And wisdom to know the difference.
The next parable is to teach us to be humble and think big. God’s blessing is not only enough for us but also more than enough to bless others. Jesus said,
“It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (v. 31-32).
Mustard seeds are not physically the smallest of all seeds, but they represent humility. The mustard shrubs in the Middle East is also different from the weed-like plant we see in America. They grow up to ten feet tall and twenty feet wide. So, as Jesus said, they grow up to become huge shrubs providing shade for the birds to make nests.
What kind of mentality can be both humble and big-thinking? Yes, children. Jesus says,
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 18:3).
If you don’t want to jinx God’s blessing, you must change and become like little children because they are both humble and ambitious. The mustard shrub allows the birds to make nests in its shade. That represents an abundance mindset children have.
That reminds me of a story told by Aristotle,
“Once upon a time, a horse was very fortunate to own a beautiful meadow. He had a prodigious pasture to graze and a sizable space to play. One day, a deer entered his territory and damaged the pasture. He was extremely annoyed by the uninvited guest.
Wishing revenge, he asked a man to help him punish the deer. The man consented on the condition that the horse submitted to the bit and allowed him to mount him so that he could ride on the horse with a spear in his hand to chase the deer.
The horse agreed to the terms, and the man mounted him, but instead of obtaining vengeance on the deer, the horse became the man’s slave from that time on.”
This fable is the opposite of the parable of the mustard seed. The mustard tree tolerates the birds, but the horse became busy punishing the deer. It shows us how we could become sidetracked by small things and turn into slaves to our negative emotions.
We must have an abundance mentality to harvest God’s blessings. The question is, how generous can we be? We all have pesky things that disturb our peace and privacy. We all have what we consider to be injustices to fight against, but at what cost? Paul said,
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Rom 12:19).
As mention above, we must know what is God’s job and what’s ours. Since God says that vengeance is God’s, we must trust him to do his job. Otherwise, we will jinx the blessings, just like the horse, and become a slave to our own emotions.
These parables are very important for us to live a blessed life. Even though they seem to be just pleasant stories about birds, flowers, and plants, they enlighten us on serious human problems about life, relationships, and even politics. They are not easy to understand if we stay outside of the inner circle of Christ. The passage ends by saying,
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. (Mark 4:33-34).
It says Jesus explained these parables to his inner circle. Parables are enigmatic speech that cannot be understood by those who choose to remain on the outside. But to those who choose to follow Jesus, the mystery is gradually unfolded.
You must decide whether to place yourself inside the circle “around Jesus” or stand with the unperceiving outsiders and jinx the blessings.
Today, Jesus continues to explain the parables to his inner circle through the Holy Spirit. From these two parables, we learned three things to harvest God’s blessings without jinxing them:
- Trust the Process
- Know Your Worth
- Be Humble and Think Big
Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest happiness! Amen!