The Life Is in the Seed
Doug Murren, in Churches That Heal (1999), retells that old Native American tale of a possum watching a seed grow.
One day a possum visited his good friend, a raccoon, at his home near the river. The possum marveled at his friend's lush garden and asked if he could grow one like it. The raccoon assured the possum he could do so, although he cautioned him, "It is hard work."
The possum eagerly vowed to do the hard work necessary, then asked for and received some seeds. He rushed home with his treasure, buried them amid much laughter and song, went inside to clean up, ate, and went to bed. The next morning he leapt from bed to see his new garden.
Nothing. The ground looked no different than it had the day before!
Furious with anger and frustration, the possum shouted at his buried seeds, "Grow, seeds, grow!" He pounded the ground and stomped his feet. But nothing happened. Soon a large crowd of forest animals gathered to see who was making all the commotion and why. The raccoon came to investigate with all the others.
"What are you doing, Possum?" he asked. "Your racket has awakened the whole forest."
The possum railed about having no garden, then turned to each seed, and commanded it to grow. When the animals began to mock the possum for his silly actions, he only screamed louder. At last the raccoon spoke up once more.
"Wait a minute, Possum," he said. "You can't make the seeds grow. You can only make sure they get sun and water, then watch them do their work. The life is in the seed, not in you."
As the truth sank in, the possum ceased his yelling and began to care for the seeds as the raccoon instructed, watering them regularly and getting rid of any weeds that invaded his garden. (On some days, though, when no one was watching, he still shouted a bit.)
Then one glorious morning the possum wandered outside to see that multitudes of beautiful green sprouts dotted his garden. Just a few days later, gorgeous flowers began to bloom. With uncontrollable excitement and pride, the possum ran to his friend, the raccoon, and asked him to witness the miracle. The raccoon took one long look at the thriving garden and said, "You see, Possum, all you had to do was let the seeds do the work while you watched."
"Yes," smiled the possum, finally remembering the wise words of his friend many days before, "but it's a hard job watching a seed work."
Doug Murren concludes: "There's a lesson there for all of us. Sometimes, as Christians and church leaders, we work too hard and take ourselves too seriously instead of simply planting people in the proper environment and letting them grow."
(Doug Murren, in Churches That Heal: Becoming a Church That Mends Broken Hearts and Restores Shattered Lives [West Monroe, La: Howard Publishing, 1999], 13-14, 15.)
Source: eSermons.com email dated 7/7/08
Adapted by Leonard Sweet, Collected Sermons, Sermons.com