Love. It can be complex. But it can also be a simple seed of encouragement that takes root and produces the most vibrant flowering vine throughout our lifetime. Indeed, some of the most effective catalysts can be sown by observant and thoughtful people that God sends to us at just the right time, place or situation. In the moment, we may not see the depth of roots that instantly burst from these plantings, but years later as we reflect on life, we can often see the plentiful harvest that resulted.
Jesus reminded the disciples that with “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” (Matthew 17:20). His point is that God doesn’t need much to work with. He only needs a willing heart that wants to be used. He is the Master of developing tiny cells into grand masterpieces. After all, He created every bit of life from some form of seed.
As for our lives, He give us each purpose, and although we may be looking for a grand mission, God only asks for one thing that He can grow: love. We’re all here to love God and others. While it’s not that hard, it’s definitely counter-cultural, and it surely requires taking our eyes off of ourselves. Oh, how good it feels to love and encourage someone else, though, and truly, it takes only the smallest of acts that the Lord can multiply like fish and loaves (Matthew 14:13-21).
One such act that’s had a significant impact on my life came from my fifth grade Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Richardson. She required us each to have a journal, and every day she asked us to write in it for ten minutes. At that age, ten minutes could feel like an absolute eternity, particularly when she suggested “free writing” without a specific prompt. This daily exercise forced us to learn how to get words out of our brains and onto paper. What’s more important is that because of this practice, I discovered that I truly enjoyed the process of writing. What’s most memorable, though, is Mrs. Richardson’s encouragement, “Erin, I really think you could be a writer one day.”
I remember the disbelief I felt as she spoke those words to me. I absolutely did not feel worthy of receiving such a compliment. I can even recall asking her, “Are you serious?” I had never thought of myself in such a way before then! But over the course of decades since, I have continued to be motivated by her again and again. That single seed she planted has given me courage countless times throughout my life and career to take opportunities and use them to encourage others. Mrs. Richardson’s impact is spreading like the fluffy white dandelion seeds in the wind. And I imagine it makes God smile.
When I look back, Mrs. Richardson didn’t really do anything so grand. She simply offered encouragement. We, too, can source the beginnings of hope, good will, faith and love that everyone’s soul craves. God does the work to bring light, warmth, moisture and nourishment to any and every seed planted. He only asks that we use our lives to keep planting the things that matter.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
It’s so easy to believe that our small gestures are not significant or “enough”. But I want to encourage you that they are. They matter. Every small act of kindness, every tiny nugget of affirmation, every minuscule cell of love. God uses them, multiplies them and grows them in ways we may never get to see or imagine. What may seem like insignificant contributions to us are highly valuable currency in God’s economy.
Consider the powerful impact of the encouragements offered by the following:
- Moses reassured Joshua as he transitioned leadership to him to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land. Multiple times, Moses reminded Joshua of God’s faithful presence and cheered him on to be strong and courageous with God at his side. Joshua completed Moses’ work, bringing them into the land and also restoring the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites (Read Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1.)
- Barnabas, known as an encourager, didn’t give up on John Mark even after he had bailed on an earlier ministry opportunity. Instead, Barnabas stayed with him and mentored him even after Paul refused John Mark’s involvement. Barnabas saw something in him and helped grow his confidence in ministry. John Mark not only went on to become Peter’s assistant in spreading the Gospel, he even authored the Gospel of Mark based on Peter’s preaching. (Read Acts 15:36-39, 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24 and 1 Peter 5:13.)
- Thirteen books of the New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul and many were letters of encouragement to the believers in different cities. He wrote to strengthen, thank, remind and offer assurances about Jesus. His letters not only made a difference to the early Christians, they provide tremendous value for us today.
God has a way of using seeds of encouragement to create forests of His glory. He takes the tiny and multiplies their magnitude. Case in point, He sent a Savior as a baby.
Take the time, friends. Plant the seeds. God will use them. I don’t even know if Mrs. Richardson had a faith. What I do know is that she made a difference in my life. And because of a single sentence she spoke to me, thousands of words have been written since. Including these. Glory to God!
“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” — Henry David Thoreau
Lord, we thank You for Your many examples of love and encouragement. Because of You, we have hope. Help us to be people who plant seeds that matter. Open our eyes to see opportunities to encourage, and help us to be bold in sharing words that bring life to others. Thank You that we can trust You to multiply everything good (even tiny things). Hallelujah and Amen!