by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
I read the words, of all places, on the side of a bright, pink gift bag. “Faith plants the seed. Love makes it grow.” A kind of greeting card summary of the familiar verses found in Ephesians 2:8-10. 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. My question is this: If God plants the seed of faith, by whose love does it grow? This leads me to ask, “What is God’s preferred way for children to experience his love?”
For generations, we’ve assigned the more important role in spiritual nurturing to the Church. We expect Sunday classes and youth groups to ‘make disciples’ of kids, to show them how to ‘walk with Jesus’. A close look at Scripture convinces us that God wants spiritual nurturing to take place primarily in the home woven into the ordinaries of life. (Deuteronomy.6:1-9) It was probably easier in the first century church. It’s true, God set apart spiritually gifted men as apostles and teachers of large groups, but the early church was, for the most part, a network of extended families. Such is not the case, now.
I like the analogy of the farmer sowing seed as a picture of the Christian home. Think of the various soils mentioned as the spiritual lives of children. (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) The farmer takes responsibility for his field, he prepares the soil and God plants the seed that will prosper in the good soil. Together with God the farmer protects the seedlings and pulls the weeds that might choke the plants until, fully grown, they provide a harvest.
And for all this human effort – purchasing, preparing, providing the right environment for God to plant, protecting, and prospering – a great mystery still exists that baffles the best of us: The seed that takes root in the soil dies to its original form and grows into a completely different life expression. Only God can make such a ‘seed’! I know of no report of a scientist creating from “scratch” a seed that will germinate under the right conditions and produce a self-propagating entity when at full maturity – something entirely different from the form buried in the earth.
An even harder-to-solve mystery may be discerning when our child merely conforms to routines we set and when our child exhibits the spiritual growth that comes from the seed of faith only God can plant in her soul by the Holy spirit. Scripture says the seed will grow as we protect and nourish it, especially in its earliest stages. What a sacred, daunting task is ours!
I end here with a quote from Charles Spurgeon as edited by Allistair Begg. Next time, God willing, I’ll bring a few more suggestions for resources we parents have to help us discern the planting of God’s seed of faith in our kids’ lives, and our responsibility to partner with our Father to ensure it thrives. Be thinking of something you might share.
“Faith must be strong or love will not be fervent; the root of the flower must be healthy or we cannot expect the blossom to be glorious. Faith is the plant’s root, and love is its blossom.” Taken from “DAILY DEVOTIONAL, August 23, 2018”
…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:17