Welcome to part 2! Here is an introductory post to this series and here is part 1.
Today, we are going to look at another beautiful parable from Jesus. It is the parable of the mustard seed:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,
which a man took and sowed in his field,
which indeed is the least of all the seeds;
but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs
and becomes a tree,
so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 NKJV)
Profound, isn’t it? Simple but powerful! The least of all seeds growing into a sheltering tree – the carpenter’s son from Nazareth, born in a manger, now sitting at the right hand of God! Oh, what a sight!
At the beginning of this year, the Holy Spirit led me to the life and teachings of Isabella Lilias Trotter (1853-1928). She was a single missionary and artist who served in Algeria for over 38 years (you can find out more about her at womenofchristianity.com). Little was known about her until a pastor’s wife decided to find out more about her life after having been comforted by her writings. I am certain that especially Lilias did not know her life would touch a young woman in South Korea about a hundred years after her death, but God knew! I am sharing because I really hear God speaking to me that it is all about surrender, and that He will do the multiplying. Follow me on this one. I want to share a part of her book called “Parables of the Cross“:
This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has reached its crowning stage of dying–the delicate seed-globe must break up now–it gives and gives till it has nothing left.
What a revolution would come over the world–the world of starving bodies at home–the world of starving souls abroad, if something like this were the standard of giving; if God’s people ventured on “making themselves poor” as Jesus did, for the sake of the need around; if the “I”–“me”–“mine” were practically delivered up, no longer to be recognised when they clash with those needs.
The hour of this new dying is clearly defined to the dandelion globe: it is marked by detachment. There is no sense of wrenching: it stands ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how the wind that bloweth where it listeth may carry it away. It holds itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given: a breath does the rest, turning the “readiness to will” into the “performance.” (2 Cor. 8. 11.) And to a soul that through “deaths oft” has been brought to this point, even acts that look as if they must involve an effort, become something natural, spontaneous, full of a “heavenly involuntariness,” so simply are they the outcome of the indwelling love of Christ.
Shall we not ask God to convict us, as to where lies the hindrance to this self-emptying? It is not alone mere selfishness, in its ordinary sense, that prevents it; long after this has been cleansed away by the Precious Blood there may remain, unrecognised, the self-life in more subtle forms. It may co-exist with much that looks like sacrifice; there may be much of usefulness and of outward self-denial, and yet below the surface may remain a clinging to our own judgment, a confidence in our own resources, an unconscious taking of our own way, even in God’s service. And these things hold down, hold in our souls, and frustrate the Spirit in His working. The latent self-life needs to be brought down into the place of death before His breath can carry us hither and thither as the wind wafts the seeds. Are we ready for this last surrender?
Do you ask “Does God really mean the emptying to reach so far as this?” Study the inner life of Jesus. “I speak not of Myself” He says. “I can of Mine own self do nothing.” “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” His human self-life, sinless though it was, was laid down that He might live by the Father, and our self-life, defiled and worthless, shall we not lay it down that we may live by Him?
But how? Again not by struggling and wrestling, but by dying to it in Jesus. “I am crucified with Christ”–I myself in the very essence of my being, I let myself go to that death, and by the mysterious power with which God meets faith, I find that He has made it true: the bonds are loosed and He can have His way with me.
See in these wild iris-pods how the last tiny threads must be broken, and with that loosing, all that they have is free for God’s use in His world around. All reluctance, all calculating, all holding in is gone; the husks are opened wide, the seeds can shed themselves unhindered. Again and again has a breaking come:–the seed broke to let go the shoot–the leaf-bud broke to let go the leaf, and the flower-bud to let go the flower–but all to no practical avail, if there is a holding back now. “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” and sacrifice is the very life-breath of love. May God shew us every withholding thread of self that needs breaking still, and may His own touch shrivel it into death.
There are times when I am appalled by my own inability to love and I would self-destruct if I did not believe that Christ lives in me now, not I! What a relief that I can love now, that it is easy and not burdensome because the Holy Spirit is my Helper. It can be so arduous when I try to do it on my own. Look at how nature worships God by doing what Jesus commands us to do: die to abound. Only when the tiny mustard seed dies, can it turn into a giving tree for many. And when even the least of all seeds can turn into such a sheltering tree, how much more the others! The sovereignty of God is all over the parable! The vastness of His glory evident in the way He designed the kingdom of heaven. It is the art of dying to oneself, so that God can be glorified.
Keep your eyes on Jesus! Imitate His faith. You have no idea how God can use you, you just don’t. God’s thoughts are so much higher, transcending time and space. You may not see it now, but His kingdom is growing. You are growing!