Parable of the Puzzle Part Three: Take Advantage of the Seasons

In my last two posts I introduced my recent addiction to an intriguing puzzle game from the Apple app store. Puzzle Craft starts with a basic farm that is extended and enriched with harvests and an ore-mining site to be gradually upgraded from camp to castle. I explained about the conversations with God I have been having along with my frequent ipad breaks have been featuring in a number of prayer conversations, as my virtual kingdom Lonbain is used by God  to teach me more of his purposes. I have shared in the last two posts a few things God and I have talked about this month:  (Part One dealt with "Checking In Frequently" and Part Two with "Using Tools Effectively"

3. Take Advantage of the Seasons - Plant More Crops. 
While I was thinking about this blog topic, I heard Bill Hybels address at this year’s Global Leadership Summit, where he was talking about the parable of the sower. He observed that in Jesus’ story, only 25% of the seed produced grain (taking each of the four descriptions mathematically, which could perhaps be C21 eisegesis rather than exegesis - but no matter). Meditating on that, he asked himself how can a church flourish with such a low return on investment? The answer that came to him was ‘Plant more seed’. That resonated with me, since I was in farming mode already! Bill used his megachurch community at Willow Creek Chicago  to give examples of planting more seeds, and asked us to consider how the metaphor applies to our own context. Plant more seeds for me doesn’t equate to Billy Graham style evangelism, its about building relationships, multiplying options and maximising opportunities. It will be different for our church than yours, but no doubt fruit will grow if we plant more gospel seeds (see Mark 4:. Having my own medieval fantasy kingdom has been a lesson in productivity. The first stages are hard yakka, but once I’d invested in some more workers, sold some produce and exchanged some mineral resources for costlier assets, the farm and the mine were on a roll. I also noticed how the farm changed with the seasons, and how predatory rats and wolves appear more in the mature stages of the harvest - that's a telling observation! Planting more means harvesting more, and I’m starting to see how that translates into my daily work.

So along the way this month I’ve discerned that most of the time discipleship operates by the same principles of human economy that mark our public life,  and I've taken to heart some life lessons from the parable of the puzzle. But thankfully I also know godshaped ministry is founded on grace, and full of surprises, fruit we have not personally grown. Another speaker at the Global Leadership Summit, Jim Collins,  called this luck, we call it providence  but  Collins says we need to make good choices about how to respond to these surprises, good or bad. I’m happy to play my part as God needs me to, but to trust that the kingdom economy is not dependent on my feeble effort. 

Thanks be to God, the One who made the mines and the farms, Amen.

To Chew Over: How could you plant more seeds in your personal and community life?

How shall they hear the word of God 
unless his truth is told? 
How shall the sinful be set free, 
the sorrowful consoled? 
To all who speak the truth today, 
impart your Spirit, Lord, we pray. 

2 How shall they call to God for help 
unless they have believed? 
How shall the poor be given hope, 
the prisoner reprieved? 
To those who help the blind to see, 
give light and love and clarity. 

3 How shall the gospel be proclaimed 
that sinners may repent? 
How shall the world find peace at last 
if heralds are not sent? 
So send us, Lord, for we rejoice 
to speak of Christ with life and voice. 
from Romans 10  © Michael Perry