Starting seeds indoors is a possibility for anyone. Some seeds germinate easier than others, and results with proven varieties may vary year to year but experimenting is half the fun! The process takes a suitable space with adequate light and reasonable temperature fluctuations, some water, viable seeds, and good soil. While some gardeners might think a greenhouse is a necessity that is not the case. A south-facing window sill will work. (Hint: A table parked in front of that window will offer more space for the indoor garden.)
After creating many complex and unwieldy solutions I’ve designed and constructed a seed-starting station that occupies space on one of the shop work benches. The lighting is artificial, but as soon as the weather permits I carry the flats outdoors to take advantage of the sun. In the off season the station, made up of interconnecting panels, is disassembled and stowed in the shop attic. In its third year of service the seed station has opened new opportunities in my garden.
My dear wife tolerates a folding table and grow light in the dining room to handle overflow seedlings until the danger of frost passes in mid to late April. We start way more plants than the space in the station will house. Each year I learn more and make adjustments to improve the process.
Two days ago Shawn joined me in a seed sowing extravaganza and we opened packages, dropped seeds, and made labels. Last evening (only 2 days elapsed since planting!) I commented that I was going to check on the plants and Shawn told me, “No digging anything up to look!” Well, I did not have to dig as two varieties had germinated with tiny green leaves shooting skyward.
Cactus flower zinnia
Jesus shared many parables during His ministry, stories ripe with spiritual application for those willing to listen. One of my favorites, the Parable of the Soils, can be found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. With an audience heavy on agricultural experience Jesus drew a parallel between seeds tumbling from the sower’s hand onto various types of soil. The listeners understood that the bounty of the harvest depended on properly prepared soil.
Many times God’s Word has little impact on my life because, like seeds dropped in poor locations, distractions divert my attention or I have not counted the cost of obedience or the pull of the world and the heaviness of worry squash the seed before the fruit happens. And each time I visit this parable I am convicted anew of my need to be deliberate in pursuing God’s Word.
How do I prepare my heart to receive God’s Word? What steps can I take to foster that precious seed so it germinates, grows, and produces fruit?
Make and keep a regular appointment.
Devotion is the key to a meaningful devotional time. Be consistent. Someone else’s snippet of scripture and comments can uplift and challenge but they are no substitute for personal time in the Book. Each believer needs to be in the verses for himself. Oh, how many times God has used His Word in the course of my systematic reading to speak to my heart about that day’s situation. How did He know I would be in Psalm XX today, dealing with the very issue the psalmist faced thousands of years ago? God is God. That’s what He does.
Find some quiet.
Seems impossible with electronic devices beeping, buzzing and dinging incessantly. With overloaded schedules screaming, “Hurry up! No time for that today!” Perhaps rising earlier might help. Quiet must prevail on two fronts if God’s Word is to touch my heart – physical quietness and mental quietness. In addition to an unobtrusive environment I need to still my heart and mind. Isn’t this a great verse?
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 ESV
We must stop the mental gyrations and focus on the Word instead of the 10,000 things ping-ponging internally. That level of control requires discipline and practice. I must train myself, and of course, I can ask God for His help setting aside the distractions.
Begin with prayer.
Ask God to speak. Let Him know His message is more important than any other. Acknowledge that He is the Source of true wisdom. Thank Him for the opportunity to meet. Thank Him for His love, and the blessing of calling Him Father. Expect Him to answer.
Be deliberate in Bible reading.
Move at the pace that works. Look up unfamiliar words. Take bite-sized chunks and savor the flavor. Park and meditate when a particular verse strums a responsive chord. What about the pressure often applied in evangelical circles to read through the Bible in a year? If that works, go for it! If not, remember that it is more important to let the Bible get through me than for me to get through the Bible.
Pay attention to the verbs.
Who is doing what in the passage? Are there actions I should mimic? Do I see behaviors to avoid? Note especially God’s actions. Much encouragement awaits the reader who learns how active God is in the lives of men and women. God hears, loves, works, protects, provides…
Put yourself into the scene.
How would I feel in this situation? What would I be thinking? How can I learn from this person’s example? What might I do differently? Take time to learn the culture through the study of Bible customs. Often the meaning behind a scene we find in Scripture is lost to the modern reader without a little digging.
Keep at it.
Bible study is to the spiritual life what eating is to the physical life. How long would I last without food? Peter urged his readers to be as determined about Bible study as an infant is determined to find his mother’s milk.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 1 Peter 2:2 NASB
Redeem spare moments.
Install a read-aloud Bible app on the smartphone and listen during those inevitable traffic delays. Jot down special verses on cards and tuck them into a shirt pocket for easy access and quick review. Tape Scripture verses to the mirror and read them often. We are bombarded with messages from the world. Resolve is vital if we are to stop the flood and ponder the message God has for us.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
Change the routine as needed.
Vary the methods to keep Bible study fresh. Alternate between different translation of Scripture. Pick a favorite book and remain there for a time. Return to the Psalms and marvel at the openness and honesty of the writers. Remember that God included those confessions in His Word for our benefit. Open a hymnal and sing through some of the oldies. Pay attention to the words drawn from Scripture. Singing lifts our hearts even as we praise God.
Seed germination is a necessity of gardening. The persevering gardener discovers what works and what doesn’t work and adjust his actions accordingly. Gaining the most from time in God’s Word demands tenacity and fine tuning, also. How is your heart’s soil? Ready for a bumper crop this season?