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  • Writer's pictureTight Spine

You Were Always on My Mind

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

With the best of intentions, I launched The Tight Spine years ago with the goal to post a new adult bible story every week. Oh the flagrant optimism!! This was also during a time when I worked 40+ hours per week at a very stressful job. Left untended, my enthusiasm withered on the vine under the very common day-to-day grind. This beautiful blog location became neglected, yet... like Willie sang, Always On My Mind.

While the blog may have gathered dust, my Bible has not. My writing has not. It's just not been here, because... well, to be fair, it takes a good bit of time to go from a roughed-in draft to a published final product. And all of the life stuff that got in the way before still exists. (Say it ain't so! Life has still not slowed down?!?!) What would be easier to post more frequently are my thoughts about a particular portion of scripture and how it applies to my life at the moment.

So, here it goes...

Years ago, I read an article about an envelope discovered caught in the joinery of an antique desk drawer. It contained cotton seeds. When planted, the seeds surprisingly produced cotton in varying delicate shades of pink, blue, and yellow. These colors had not been seen since the monoculture movement in the US to all-white cotton varieties, hundreds of years ago. Yet, while the world went on contentedly producing the very predictable plain white cotton, these glorious seeds were playing a great game of hide-and-seek. Hidden and entirely forgotten.

There is so much potential stored up in a seed. Everything needed to make a life, in homeostasis. Dry. A life on pause. All the genetic potential, cellular components, and internal food storage needed before the plant can put down roots. And, the ability to hibernate for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Circled with friends yesterday, we considered a variety of scripture to include Matthew 13:31-32 and Matthew 17:20-21. As we studied these two passages about mustard seeds, my thoughts here were growing in another part of my mind.

"Truly I tell you if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches."

Full confession here, my eyes are so accustomed to these words that they skim and hop over these truths like pebbles on the surface of the deep. The kid in me must really like the frosted side, because my childlike soul yields objections and inwardly turns away. I must believe on some level that if I pause (even for a millisecond) to really consider this, scary things will creep into my mind like a mold.

When I have the courage to pause and consider these words, I do experience a drop in my stomach like the ground is going to give way. And the fear of sinking like a pebble into the deep grips me. The deep is terrifying. Dark and full of hidden scary (real and imaginary) things. Easily, I could share six pages worth of inner dialogue and turmoil, full of arguments and rationalization regarding these passages. Today, I will spare you the agony and my own embarrassment.

Staying above ground for a bit, let's consider this very small seed. A tiny thing, only 1-2 millimeters in size. Smaller than Lincoln's ear on the US penny. Not having ever seen a mustard plant, I used my research assistant: Google. A mustard plant averages between 6 and 20 feet, but can grow up to 30 feet tall. All of that stored potential, tightly packed into a single tiny seed that could get caught between your teeth.

It's definitely caught in my teeth.

This tells me that my faith can be a weak, little puny thing and can grow into something that provides a place for others to roost. My spindly nugget of faith can sprout in a mere three days (thank you Google for that gorgeous parallel) and the branches of my faith can become sturdy enough to provide a place for others to stand. That is a lovely proposition, but currently I don't think others standing on my faith is a great idea. There's a lot going on here that does not feel sturdy. My bashful faith knows full well that it doesn't grow by willing it. I can't just squint my eyes and scrunch my face and make my faith 30 feet tall. And yet, it's not a passive process either.

My college botany class memories butt in here to add knowledge on the topic of plant life cycles. This knowledge comes from my early twenties. My twenty-something self is a little on the bossy side, so I am just going to let her run the show here for a second. But before I yield my minutes... there are parallels to phases of my Christian walk, beginning with that single seed of salvation at age nineteen. Now in listening position, my older wise self is considering this new, strange seed in my hand and my familiar voice as a babe in Christ.

At the beginning of the season, the plant sends out buds. They develop into flowers. Those flowers are visited by pollinators. The pollen brought to the flower fertilizes the flower. The flower petals fall away. The ovary at the base of the flower swells like a pregnant mother-to-be (for she is), and the seeds further develop in that fruit. The fruit continues to develop and either falls to the ground, is eaten by an animal, or dries on the plant. The fruit was not the point. The seeds were. And they're are not dead. It is the beginning of the next cycle of life. Most seeds must overwinter (endure a prolonged freeze) or experience a season of dryness before it can germinate or sprout. And some seeds shockingly must undergo fire to release their potential.

It has been a dry time. This unfamiliar, hard, tiny seed I'm holding has survived the dumpster fires of life. This seed came from a season of promise that bore fruit. I guess I'm just a little dull, surprised that it's just sitting here - unyielding; not sprouted. Do I have the courage to wait and see if this next phase produces life that is altogether a surprise? Something beautiful, and absolutely paradigm-shifting, like delicately shaded pillowy puffs of cotton.

At the risk of introducing too many analogies... After drought and fire, I've been protecting my little seed like an injured joint. I try not to use it too much. I certainly don't let it get dirty! I compensate and work around it. I put my little seed in a safe place. Not the soil. It's dark down there and my seed could wither and die. I mean, look at what happened to the fruit! It's not around anymore. And frankly, I don't know what this seed will produce. I may not like it.

The Lord is such a gentleman. He's waited until I am ready. And He is asking me to place it in good soil and near Himself so He can continually water it (Psalm 23). Fair warning, He says, "It's going to get dirty." It is a silent terror now, because I am sure that the surface of my seed is going to split. I'm not sure I'm ready. Recalling John 12:23-26:

"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My father will honor the one who serves me."

Are you also in the place of unnerving silence, in a pause of life, and your faith is being challenged? That little seed you're palming is in the perfect place for you to slip it into the hand of the Master Gardener. Any amount of faith that you have in Him allows you to let Him take it and tend to it. That's the kernel of faith you must have. (I'm preaching to myself here.) The faith is in the handing over. It's not willing the seed to grow, it's in the surrender.

Once your faith is in the hand of the Gardener, you can expect to see at just the right time (Galatians 6:9) an explosion of life that He knows has been there, waiting, all along. Yes, it's terrifying to have that weight of trust in Someone. Your faith is a very precious thing to hand over to anyone. Yes, your seed has to die. But you're not handing it over to just anyone. You're handing it over to THE Someone. And the Word tells us with that single seed, we can experience gain. Stop focusing on what you have to lose. Focus on what you have to gain:

  • A deeper level of trust in your Lord, with faith growth to fearlessness (roots)

  • An ability to provide comfort and shelter to other believers (plant)

  • A beautiful purpose to your life that you cannot visualize at the moment (flowers)

  • A harvest that draws others to Christ, growing the Kingdom (seeds)

Friend, I am banking on this for myself. The opportunity cost is just too great to hold onto my little faith seed any longer. Just as I love trees, flowers, and fruits... my life has reached seed state and I must willingly wade into the dark, knowing that this is really reaching for the Light.

Scripture references for look up:

Psalm 23

Matthew 13:31-32

Matthew 17:20-21

John 12:23-26

Galatians 6:9

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