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On your Mark

Under development

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain — first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29, NIV)

When Jesus first gave this parable of the scattered seed, only a few followed Him.

Imagine if a pollster had surveyed the population of the Roman world and asked two questions: (1) “Have you ever heard of Jesus?” and (2) “If you have heard of Him, do you think anyone will be even aware of His existence 100 years from now?”

The results would probably not be much different from those who today are predicting the decline or demise of Christianity.

But Jesus sees clearly into the future and knows that His message will have great effect. He is the One who scatters the seed (His Word). The soil is humanity in general, and you in particular.

Jesus knew nature and nurture. He understood plant processes — that nothing springs up from the ground full blown. It goes through a process of germination, growth and development until full potential is reached.

That’s the way it is in your life and in mine. We don’t all at once become mature followers of Jesus Christ.

I was 10 years of age when the “seed” of conversion entered my life. Actually, in the middle of the night I dreamed I had missed the Lord’s coming. I awakened in the darkness and shook with fear. I promised right then and there that if He had not returned, I would serve Him. And I have.

But I knew little then compared to what I know now. I didn’t understand the Bible, I couldn’t explain the major doctrines, and I didn’t know where that childhood decision would take me in life.

Christ’s followers acknowledge both miracle and development. Healings may take place immediately, but learning takes time. It’s developmental. Jesus, in this parable, tells us that over time His Word will bring growth and maturity into our lives.

In the natural, none of us arrived from the womb as adults. My birth weight of 7 pounds is not where I am today. My birth length of 21 inches has stretched to about 72. If my mother were alive, she could no longer carry me in her arms.

Just as biological growth takes time, so does spiritual development.

I love the epitaph on Ruth Graham’s grave, the wife of Billy Graham. One day they had driven through a work area on the highway, and she saw this sign: “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.” She told Billy, “That’s what I want on my tombstone.”

Whether we use the illustration of construction or seed growth, the result is the same. God is not finished with you yet. You are to keep growing until “the harvest” — until the “end of construction.”

Jesus’ parable, however, does not deal only with personal spiritual growth in you. It’s also about the larger Kingdom.

From the first handful of believers, the followers of Christ over centuries have grown into multiplied hundreds of millions. And His kingdom will continue to grow all the way until He comes again for us!

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, You never put an age limit on growth in You. There are areas of my life where You still seek growth. May I continue to be fertile ground for Your life growing in me -- keep me farm-able and fruitful!

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Visit On Your Mark at for a link to On Your Mark video and audio podcasts with Dr. George O. Wood.

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