The natural world around us shows us the importance of planting to growth. It’s true that weeds seem to sprout up anywhere and everywhere without any planting required, but if we want to have a beautiful garden, we must plan it and plant what we hope to grow. It may be flowers; it may be trees; it may be fruit and vegetables, but if we want to reap, we first have to sow.

All gardening, it seems to me, is an act of faith, for what we sow or plant looks nothing like what we reap or harvest. The seed bears little resemblance to the finished product, a principle we see replicated in the spiritual life (see 1 Cor 15:35-49, John 12:23-26). At the same time, it’s clear that we reap what we sow. (Gal 6:7-10) You don’t get figs from thistle trees. (Matt 7:16) We have to sow what we want to reap; it’s as simple as that.

Growth requires planting, watering, weeding and pruning and, of course, the right weather conditions. We have control over some of those things (which is why gardening and farming are hard work!), but we don’t have control over everything. In simple terms, it’s God who makes things grow. (1 Cor 3:6-7) We always need to remember God’s part in the process: He’s the One who does the miraculous work; we are co-workers with Him.

This month, we have sent out packets of flower seeds to many people to plant. It seems an odd thing to do in July (seeds are generally planted earlier in the year and come to flower in summer), but as we consider spiritual growth, the flower seeds are a reminder to us that sometimes things take longer than we want or expect and also that we must plant in faith. Faith is that invisible ingredient so necessary for spiritual growth. Heb 11:6 tells us that without faith it’s impossible to please God.

The flower seeds are a symbol of the spiritual growth we are praying for in our area. As people plant these when they can and see beautiful, colourful flowers grow, we believe that we can sow seeds of faith, love, kindness, joy and hope in our local communities which will grow into a beautiful harvest in God’s time. We believe that our actions and lives can have a positive impact on our community and that God will use us to bring in a harvest of people who want to know Him for themselves. We believe this by faith. We are called to live by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7) So as you plant in your gardens, we pray you’ll mix your planting and gardening with faith and look forward not only to seeing photos of beautiful flowers in the months to come but to a harvest of people coming to know God as their Saviour and Friend.