The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, and the farmer does not know how. Mark 4:26
Gardeners and farmers know that growth is a natural process that takes its own sweet time. One plants at the appropriate time, waters and feeds the seed, and then goes on about life—sleeping and rising night and day—while meanwhile the seed does its thing. It really doesn’t matter how quickly you want this to happen, because the process out-ranks you. You don’t get to be in a hurry, because you’re not in charge. The seed will grow in its own sweet time. And you rush the process at your own peril.
Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek, The Last Temptation of Christ) told of a time when, as a boy, he noticed a cocoon stuck to a tree. He knew that there was a butterfly inside about to be born. He waited a while, but it was taking too long, so he decided to warm the cocoon with his breath. The butterfly finally emerged but its wings were still stuck together and it died soon afterwards. “That small corpse is until this very day one of the heaviest burdens on my conscience,” Kazantzakis said. “We have to have patience, wait for the right time and then follow confidently the rhythm that God has chosen for our lives.”
We are in such a hurry for things to work out. How might God be teaching us to be patient? What seeds may be lying hidden within us? What seeds have been planted…and are now lying in the dark like unanswered questions…what problems have been hounding us that would best left alone so they can rest in the soil and germinate and work themselves out?
Our own future is a seed lying hidden in the heart of God. We must not be anxious, trying to get it to bloom before its time.
There’s just no point in being anxious about tomorrow. There is no point in blowing on the cocoon to force the butterfly, because it is not the butterfly’s time. The kingdom of God is now. In the seed. In the unanswered questions.
The poet Rilke says it this way:
I would like to beg you, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. (Letters to a Young Poet, 1929)