Fathom Mag
Article

Seeds want to grow.

I’m knees to the ground again with fingernails coated in the dust to which I’ll return one day, asking God to remind me how to be faithful.

Published on:
July 22, 2019
Read time:
3 min.
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Seeds want to grow. It seems simple and obvious but when I’m dripping sweat onto old soil and working my fingers down to the roots of insipid weeds, I need to remind myself of it. I need the principles of a seed buried in the earth, breaking out of its dry skin, rooting itself in the dark, and emerging to stretch toward the light. 

At the beginning of this season, we tilled the beds and rotated the crops. Where the tomatoes grew last year, the cosmos now grow. Where the zucchini thrived last year, garlic and shallots stand tall. We tilled and flipped, fertilized and cleared the beds, and yet one lone tomato seed found its way through all our work, through the new dirt, and has emerged among the paper-thin cosmos as if it belonged there the whole time. 

Seeds want to grow.

It is never the seed itself that leads to yellowed leaves, lack of fruit, or browned edges.

Early on in May when I was preparing to put the hardier varieties in the ground, I tossed the ones that looked weak or dead. The second, shorter seedlings. The ones that tried as hard as they could but a stronger brother out-resourced them and dominated their spot in the tray. So one by one they were removed and thrown out. Some into the compost. Some just outside the door of the greenhouse—next to the pansies and the washed-out gnome. Others into the weeds. 

But now I have rogue cauliflower thriving in the compost. Broccoli next to the pansies. Strawflower next to the old weeds. A random potato that I had thought lifeless has sprouted and now boasts stems eight inches high. 

If a seed is healthy—if it is full of life—it persists. It is never the seed itself that leads to yellowed leaves, lack of fruit, or browned edges. The soil, the water, the weeds. It’s everything else. But the seed? It wants to grow. 


Recently a friend emptied his heart to me. His life is nothing that he imagined. His world is crashing down in various places. Church and the gospel haven’t been a part of his life in, well, he doesn’t know how long. 

“I need to come back,” he says. “Maybe just sneak in the back door some Sunday. I need it.” 

Seeds want to grow. 

As a parent, the work can feel exhausting. As a sinner, I’m even more aware of how insurmountable the task is. I can’t even stay on top of the mess in my own heart, let alone the ones teeming in my children’s souls. This isn’t my job, of course. I can’t do the work. 

I’m knees to the ground again with fingernails coated in the dust to which I’ll return one day, asking God to remind me how to be faithful.

But we see it. We say, “Hey, that looks like a weed. Might want to pull that out while it’s young.” We see the storms in her heart and the words of her mouth and I feel like I’m back on my knees, fingers worked raw in the earth.

Then late one night, she talks about her faith. Her prayers. She sings a worship song in the hallway.

Seeds want to grow. 

I know this best in myself. When the headlines are rattling around in me and my heart feels buried under the darkness of each news article and social media posts. Marriages blow up around us. Doctors reports feel grim. I know not how to lift my heavy feet day in and day out when my spirit feels perplexed, when the kingdom of God feels like a faint shadow, when it seems I’m overgrown with doubts and fear. I’m prone to wander in my desires, seeking the beauty of the world and not the beauty of the earth. I’m knees to the ground again with fingernails coated in the dust to which I’ll return one day, asking God to remind me how to be faithful. 

And then Hosea 10:12 whispers across my sunburnt lips, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground.” 

Seeds want to grow. 

Things planted years ago make their way to the surface where all goes silent as once again, as promised, life emerges. This is not a work that I can do. This is not a feeling I can muster up. It’s almost as though the sower bends low to remind me:

Seeds want to grow. 

Andrea Burke
Andrea Burke is the Director of Women’s Ministry at Grace Road Church in Rochester, NY. She writes and teaches regularly for women and also lends a voice to cultural issues by co-hosting The Good Enough Podcast. She’s married to the quintessential Vermont man, Jedediah, and they are raising two kids in an old farmhouse on a couple of acres with cherry trees and gardens outside of Rochester, New York. You can also find her writing at For The Church and her own site andreagburke.com.

Cover image by Markus Spiske

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