Pamela Lenartowicz  |  The Petoskey News-Review

Summer has arrived! It is a time of growth. A time when the earth is no longer dormant but rather full bloom. The trees are leafed out and there is a full assortment of green covering the land. The flowers are in full bloom and they dot the landscape with all sorts of colors: Blue, pink, yellow, purple, orange, etc. The vegetable gardens are planted and the young plants have broken through the ground showing hope of a plentiful harvest. Growth is abundant revealing God’s glorious creation.

In his teaching, Jesus frequently refers to plants and farming. In three of the gospels we hear the Jesus speak of the parable of the mustard seed in which he compares the Kingdom of God with the seed of a familiar shrub. He says, “it is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs.” (Mark 4:30-32). Jesus is referring to our faith. It is a tiny seed that is planted in us by God at our creation and like the mustard seed, it can grow into something big and beautiful, but like any seed, our faith can’t grow without some basic care and attention.

All plants need nutrition to grow. They need to be fed and so does our faith. How do we feed our faith? We read scripture. We attend Bible study. We read daily devotions. We read books written by other people of faith. We can learn about Christian history. We feed our faith through knowledge. Knowledge is a big scoop of Miracle Gro!

Secondly, we need to water our faith. All living things need water to survive. How do we water our faith? Through prayer. Make praying a habit. Prayer doesn’t have to be some formal act. It can be spontaneous! You can pray anytime throughout the day. You can also dedicate a certain time each day for quiet reflection and a prayerful conversation with God. This includes prayers for yourself and for others. Prayers of Thanksgiving for the blessings we have and prayers of praise to God. Prayer will bring you closer to God and the more you know God, the stronger your faith will become.

And don’t forget to listen for God to answer! God usually speaks quietly. Sometimes it’s just a gentle nudge. Sometimes God sends messages through the actions of other people. Sometimes God speaks directly to your heart with no words at all. It can be hard to discern God’s messages, but if you listen closely you will hear.

Next, we need to add a little sunshine! This is how plants create energy to grow and it is another element to growing our faith. Sunlight represents the positive influences in our life. Associate with positive people! Chose to be around people who love and support you. People who have energy to move forward in their life and will encourage you to do the same.

Lastly, we need to do some weeding! Weeds can choke the life out of a plant and they can do the same to us. Weeds represent the negative influences in our life. Weeds are our darkness. They are our doubts, fears, and anxiety. When in the dark, look for sunshine! Find a mentor or a trusted friend to help you weed out the negative influences. Weeds can be anywhere! You may want to ask God to help you discern whether you are faced with a weed or not. The beautiful part of weeding is that one little tug will destroy the weed and you’ll have nothing stopping your faith from growing again.

You may ask, “Why is faith so important? Why should I bother to grow my faith?” Faith is what gives us the strength to get through the difficult times, the peace to get us through the upsetting times, and the joy we experience in times of celebration. Faith is rewarded not with something perishable, but rather with something imperishable, the gift of the Kingdom of God. Through faith, the Kingdom of God is found both here on earth and in life everlasting.

This is the season of growth. Take time to grow your faith, either at home or at a church of your choice. It is well worth the effort for the reward is great, just like the mustard seed “that becomes the greatest of all scrubs.”

The Rev. Pamela Lenartowicz is priest-in-charge at St. Andrew Episcopal Church in Gaylord.

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