February 2023 Pastor’s Corner — Winter Growth

 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” — Mark 4:26–29

It’s usually right about this time of year that most of us are getting tired of winter.  I say “usually” because we haven’t really had much of “winter” this year.  Other than the cold snap in late December, we’ve pretty much just had a long, protracted fall.  But whether it’s snowed or not, or if it’s been as cold as we expect, everything else is pretty much the same.  The ground is a bland brown, the trees are bare, and even on sunny days everything just looks kind of dead.

However, underneath that bland brown ground, inside those bare, grey trees, there are a lot of things happening.  What seems dead on the surface is full of life underneath.  Roots are spreading, seeds are sprouting, water is being absorbed, nutrients are being processed, new life is preparing to burst forth.  It looks like very little is happening right now, but in a few months our yards, gardens and trees will burst forth with new life.

Sometimes we feel like there’s nothing happening in our lives, our souls or in our community.  We might feel as dead or bland as the trees and ground in late January and early February.  In the midst of the cold days and long nights, we wonder if God has given up on us.  We look for evidence of spiritual growth in or around us, but can’t find anything at all.

Just like the flowers and grass in the winter time, just because you can’t see any evidence of God at work in your life, doesn’t mean He isn’t at work.  Sometimes, the work the Holy Spirit is doing is happening under the surface, behind the scenes of our heart and soul.  It’s necessary work that has to happen in order for the new spiritual growth to spring forth in the next season of life.

I think something very similar is happening in the life of Northminster right now.  Sometimes we look around and struggle to see evidence that God is still at work.  It’s easier to find things that look like death rather than life.  But just because we can’t see what’s going on doesn’t mean nothing is happening.  God is moving and working behind the scenes, working under the surface to prepare each of us individually and us as a community of faith for a new season of growth and life.  

Each spring, we take time to prepare our yards for the new growth that’s about to come.  We should be intentional about doing the same thing spiritually.  If God is in fact preparing a new season of spiritual growth and life, we should be preparing ourselves for it — as individuals and as a community of faith.  Let’s intentionally spend time in prayer and in God’s word, asking the Holy Spirit to prepare us for the work He is already doing in and around us.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. — 1 Cor. 3:6–9


Rev. David Garrison