As the new year approaches, the thoughts of children everywhere turn to firecrackers! Stands pop up along roadsides with enticing signs offering two for one deals. The air on New Year's Eve will be filled with the sounds of pops and whistles causing neighborhood dogs to quiver in fear.
Now I enjoy a good fireworks show as much as the next person, but I've never been one to get into the homemade version. My children are like every other child who wants to fill the night with noise, while I worry that they'll hurt themselves in their haste. But, New Year's Eve usually means firecrackers nonetheless. That's what started this random thought.
When I think of firecrackers, I remember they make noise, they can be fun to watch, they can hurt you if you're not careful, and they don't last very long. Sounds like a lot of people I know....and that's the point. Remember, I'm not a big fan of firecrackers...I'm drawn to something much quieter...like an apple seed.
In the Bible, Jesus told the parable of the sower and in that story, some of the seed fell on shallow earth and sprang up quickly. Since these seeds had no real root, they just as quickly withered away. Some of the seeds fell on good soil and grew and produced 30, 60, 100 fold. Therein lies the difference in a firecracker and an apple seed.
As humans, we are often drawn to the flashy, quick rise to fame of the firecracker. What we forget is that the flash only lasts for a moment...fades quickly at best and can be dangerous at worst. Unfortunately, many young Christians are like those firecrackers. Sometimes in their zeal, they even manage to hurt those around them. They mean well, but like the firecracker they can be full of noise and then leave nothing but a puff of smoke behind them. Come to think of it, that's not just young Christians...that's people in general!
Contrast that to the lowly apple seed. Nothing really flashy there. Plant it and you'll have to wait a long time to see any results. Before that seed can become what it was created to be, it must die to itself...something we don't really see. Then slowly, that seed will grow into a shoot, then a sapling, then a tree, then finally...after what may seem like an eternity...the tree will produce fruit. Inside each seed lies the potential for thousands of other seeds, each with the same potential to feed those around it and grow. Have you ever met someone like that? You just get the feeling when you're around them that the fruit and wisdom they offer didn't happen quickly. It is precious fruit that took a lifetime to develop...and they don't look much like seeds anymore. While some are young in years, they have obviously died to self. Others, while they have had a lifetime to do this, somehow just resemble wrinkled old seeds...or firecrackers that have simply burned out.
Every New Year, people make huge resolutions like firecrackers...quickly made and forgotten. If instead, we can remember life is much more like planting a seed, perhaps we'll begin to see the difference in ourselves and those around us. It's not too flashy, and it's not much fun to watch, but if we're living for more than just the moment, we'll realize it's the way to go. Here's wishing you happy planting in the New Year.