As Alma compares the process of spiritual growth to planting a seed, there is a crucial moment in his narrative:
As the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow.Alma 32:30
What do you do when that happens? Don’t neglect it. Keep nourishing it. Look forward to the day when it will become a tree.
The Greek word chortos (χόρτος) is usually translated “grass.” However, in the Parable of the Growing Seed, it is translated “blade,” because it refers to a tiny plant which will eventually become much larger and bear fruit:
So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.Mark 4:26-28
I have a tendency to neglect blades, because I’m looking for the full corn. Emerging growth is cause for celebration and for patient persistence. Whether it be a project at work, the development of a new skill, or building a new relationship, the first signs of growth can inspire us to keep going, to not give up.
There’s another lesson from both parables: We don’t control growth; we simply provide the environment in which it can occur. Alma says that the process requires diligence, faith, and patience. (See Alma 32:42-43.) Jesus says that the planter doesn’t know how the seed grows. We have to trust the process. We can’t try to engineer everything.
Today, I will be grateful for emerging growth. I will pay attention to the “blades” in my life that are beginning to sprout. I will value them for their potential, I will “[look] forward with an eye of faith” (Alma 32:40), and I will trust God to help them grow.
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