Next Steps

It's mustard seeds, all the way.

Little Things (5)

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” 
Matthew 13.31, 32

Left foot, right foot
One of my favorite columns by advice writer Judith Martin (Miss Manners) was her response to a young girl preparing for her first prom, who asked Miss Manners how to walk in high heels. Her answer: “Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.”

One step at a time, in other words. Think about it as you take those first steps, until you get the feel of what it is to walk in high heels, and you will improve in all subsequent steps until you don’t have to think about it as much.

We can imagine that, by the time that young lady reached her prom, she was not only walking confidently, but ready to dance.

In a 1970s article entitled “As Breathing and Consciousness Return,” Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn addressed the question of what it would take to throw off the tyrannical rule of the Soviet machine and reclaim Russia for the people. He insisted that all that was necessary was for every Russian who loved his country to take a single moral step within his own power. That step would embolden them for the next, and the next, and the next, until…it was 1989, the Candlelight Revolution in Romania, and the end of the Soviet Union.

Left foot, right foot. Single moral steps. Mustard seeds of faith sown into the ground of your Personal Mission Field. From little things and small stuff, Kingdom fruit blossoms and Kingdom power expands.

The field is the world
Jesus deliberately inserted the parable of the mustard seed between that of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13.24-30) and His explanation of that parable (vv. 36-43). When He came to the explanation – that the field in His parable represents the entire world, where faithful servants of God are sowing good Kingdom seeds – He wanted His hearers to be thinking small. Mustard seed small. Next steps small.

But is your faith small? Are you perplexed about how you should serve the Lord? What your calling in life might be? What you should do or where you should go? Are you having trouble seeing the far horizon of your calling from the Lord? Not a problem: just take the next small step in your bigger faith. 

Each of us has been assigned a sector in the Lord’s field, and this is our Personal Mission Field. It is comprised of places and people, responsibilities and opportunities, roles and relationships. We launch out into that field every day, and wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, whomever we’re with, opportunities abound for sowing small mustard seeds of faith into situations and souls.

That may not sound very glamorous, but it is the way Jesus taught us to think about our lives as His followers. Mustard seeds of faith take the form of prayers and plans, words and deeds, smiles and acts of kindness, notes of affirmation and appreciation, conversations in which we share our love for Jesus without apology or argument. Our seed sack should be full as we head out each day, replenished by our time in the Word and prayer, and the preparations we have made for the people and situations we anticipate. And we must be diligent to make the most of every moment the Lord gives us for sowing mustard seeds into the field of the world.

From those small gestures of faith, the Kingdom of God can take root and grow.

Walk and sow
Left foot, right foot. A single step within the Holy Spirit’s power. Every next step.

The Christian life is often described as a walk (cf. Rom. 8.4, Gal. 5.16, etc.). In New Testament days, walking was the normal means of conveyance. Left foot, right foot; one step after another. Walking is time-consuming, but if you know where you want to go, and keep at it using a reasonable pace, you will get there soon enough.

And if, as you are walking, you sow seeds of faith, you can expect that soon enough, real fruit will begin to appear in your Personal Mission Field.

John Chapman could see a day when the land would be full of fruit, like the fruit he enjoyed in the orchards of Mr. Crawford, where he worked. He believed people should be able to share in this goodness, and so he set out across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana with his bag of seeds in hand.

Johnny Appleseed, as he has come to be known, planted his seeds in clusters, and fenced them in to protect the young trees against animals. He did not realize the fruit of his walking and sowing during his lifetime. He died in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in 1845. But the legacy of Johnny Appleseed’s faithfulness continues to be celebrated in a wide variety of ways to this day.

Walk, sow; left foot, right foot; single moral steps; every next step. 

Your daily walk with the Lord is fraught with power and potential for bringing righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit to your world. Seek the Lord’s advice, pay attention to the steps before you, and walk by faith, not by sight, sowing mustard seeds of faith as you go. Even though you may sow in tears, the Lord promises that much reaping will result, whether in your lifetime or beyond (Ps. 126).

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it;
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

For reflection
1.  Have you identified your Personal Mission Field? Watch this brief video, then download the worksheet to map out your sector of the Lord’s field.

2.  How can you prepare each day for the walking and sowing opportunities of your Personal Mission Field?

3.  How can you encourage other believers in their next steps of faith?

Next steps – Preparation: Share today’s article with a friend. Challenge your friend to join you in mapping out your Personal Mission Field, then get together to share and pray.

T. M. Moore

Forward today’s ReVision to a friend, and encourage your friend to subscribe.

This week’s study is part 1 of a 3-part series, The Small Stuff. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 1, “Little Things.” Why not line up some friends to study through all three parts of this series?

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

[1]Kittie L. Suffield, “Little is Much”

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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