“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
I took a vow once to underline every verse in Matthew that started out with the phrase, “the kingdom of heaven is like…”. My ADD made sure it was a temporary vow. But I like going back and reading these. I think it’s funny—in a very ADD way—that Scripture never really tells us what the kingdom is, just what it is like. Jesus used metaphors, cryptic similes, and other figures of speech that sometimes leaves me nodding my head the way I used to in high school Chemistry class to cloak my disdain and pure ignorance for chemical compounds and how many molecules of some periodic element merged—in my opinion, a very suspicious and possibly immoral way—to another electron which gave it magical properties that may or may not be explosive. I had an affinity towards the explosives.
It was because of chemistry that I decided to be a pastor.
But I love these moments in Scripture, because it allows the imagination—something unallowed in chemistry—to form what we see the Kingdom to be. So here in Matthew chapter 13, verse 31-32, Christ likens his kingdom to a mustard seed. Can’t you see it? A dark speck buried in deep creases of the farmer’s palm. Squinting to make out its shape and color he kicks a groove in the soil below. Squatting down, he upends his hand over the broken ground, then turns his hand to be sure that the seed fell. Months and years go by as the seed germinates into a recognizable plant. But unlike the surrounding garden plants, this one grows large, towering over its fellow flora.
Here’s the crux; the preferred modus operandi in the Kingdom of God is slow, small, hidden, and private.
Sow seeds of tears.
Sow seeds of prayers.
Whisper the silent songs of your heart.
Don’t be impatient with small beginnings.
Plant the small seeds.
Then, one day, without much notice and devoid of pomp, you will see what has become of you. A tree. Large. Spread out. Surprise. Maybe it was the chicking and peeping of the birds nesting in your branches that awakened you to your evolvement.