A parable of my own: When my son Ben lived with me, there came a time when I begged him to plant some tomato and pepper plants for me. Ben is a good gardener – he inherited his Grandmother’s thumb. He absolutely refused: I will not waste a moment of my life on planting anything for you, Ma.
Imagine my hurt when I asked him why. Because you won’t do the necessary work and we both know it. You’ll ignore it and leave it to its own devices and it will die. I won’t do it. And you can’t make me.
That’s how I remember it, anyhow.
All the conditions were excellent for a good crop: good soil, plenty of sunshine, an easy source of nearby water in the form of the water hose; a willing and able sower, good seed.
What was missing was a gardener – someone to nurture and tend what was sown.
And without a good gardener, the crop would fail.
People are like the plants I wanted to plant but had no interest in maintaining: telling someone the Good News, preaching at them about what they should do, without being willing to go the distance with them, without being willing to do the hard work of persisting throughout their ‘season’, they have virtually no chance.
We cannot preach someone to heaven. We have to walk alongside those – including ourselves – in need of God’s Word.
For how long? For as long as it takes.
Just like Jesus.
Ben was right, of course – I would have been too unmindful to even drag the garden hose the few feet necessary to water my imaginary plants. It’s not easy when the son becomes the teacher, let me tell you.