A spring storm scattered hundreds of immature seed pods across my driveway today–an untidy intrusion, courtesy of a neighbor’s tree down the street.
Part of me was grateful about the ‘immature’ bit—because it means the seedlets won’t develop into sprouts that need to be plucked from my yard or mulch beds in the weeks to come.
But the more I consider the soggy mess that remains on the concrete, the more I’m intrigued by its prodigal nature: the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of wind-tossed pods out there…all from a single tree.
It’s the signature of a remarkable regenerative bounty. And each spring, its broad outlines are repeated hundreds of times in my neighborhood alone, across dozens of different species of trees.
Seed pods are tossed by the winds — tens of thousands of ’em, none of which will ever develop into trees…
In short order, they’ll be followed by a comparable number of seeds that did manage to remain on the branch long enough to mature. But most of them will never set down roots that last, either.
It’s enough to give a Six Sigma Black Belt nightmares. Imagine the waste! Imagine the inefficiency!
And yet, this is exactly how the kingdom of God often works, isn’t it?
I was reminded of that when I reflected on one of the stories recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. Luke tells us that shortly after Pentecost, a severe persecution broke out in Jerusalem, and…
…all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria…
That is to say: far from the seats of power and influence in first-century Palestine.
All were scattered. And up from the wreckage…
…those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
So that soon enough…
There was great joy in that city.
Then, as now, isn’t it amazing to consider what good things God can fashion from that which seems like disaster to our human eyes…to our human hearts?
Sure, we’d prefer not to have our dreams demolished or our plans short-circuited…like so many useless seed pods cast off from a neighbor’s locust tree.
But even should our fondest desires never flower…even if they wind up looking like a soggy mess scattered across an unforgiving slab of concrete…perhaps it’s not a cause for despair, after all.
Perhaps it’s simply an opportunity to recall that God’s ways are not our ways. And that in the end, being scattered…is often what really matters.