I once gave a talk to children at a Bible Camp in Panama.
Outside of the covered patio we used as a lecture hall, mango trees were getting heavy with fruit.
The mangoes were almost in season.
I had picked one bruised and green mango that had fallen on the ground. Turning it over in my hands, and dramatically raising it to my mouth, I asked the children if the green mango I held was ready to eat.
Their glee erupted as they tried to save me from a truly bitter experience. . . They quickly shouted NO!!!!
“Because they are greeeeeeeennnnn!” was the enthustic reply from these kids willing to state the obvious for the clueless foreigner.
“But what would it taste like?”
“Bitter!” was their one word reply.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because they are greeeeeeeennnnn!” was the enthustic reply from these kids. Their chuckles and giggles led to a great bible lesson on growth and maturity.
Growth in Observable Stages
“All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” – Mark 4:38
We know that the Christian conversion is a process, a journey.
The seed of spiritual restlessness is planted. Under the mysterious working of the Holy Spirit, that seed grows.
As it grows, it goes through observable stages that the farmer can see. Jesus points out the obvious:
- Full Kernel.
Likewise, a seeker will start looking into Scripture, have conversations with friends, think deeply on these things. God uses conversations, reflection, sermons, circumstances and more to help that journey along.
Don’t harvest before it’s ready
If you have ever tended a garden to produce flowers or fruit, you know you need to wait for the plant or fruit to mature.
The children at the Bible Camp knew that green bitter and immature mangoes will transform to the sweet tropical fruit in a few more weeks. When the fruit is ready, they can enjoy it!
They have learned to recognize a ripe mango that is ready to be devoured. They won’t harvest before it is ready.
So also with the process of conversion.
So much of our evangelism training focuses on the conversion, we forget to allow for the process of maturity. We need to allow our seeking friends time
- to make their decision,
- find answers for their questions
- become willing to consider the claims of Christ
- find healing for wounds caused by Christians or other people that harm their journey.
Other times, we might encounter a stranger who has a spiritual conversation with us. We can learn to discover where our seeking friends and strangers are in their journey and help them move forward towards maturity.
Find the next step
The farmer is able to observe the growth process, we can too.
The challenge for us is
- to be patient
- to trust the sovereignty of God
- to not rush the process
Lord Jesus, thank You for helping me place my faith in You as my Lord and Savior.
I thank you that You planted that seed of the word into my life and that it has blossomed into a relationship with You.
I pray for my friends today that you would help the seeds that have been planted in their life to sprout and grow into a place ready for harvest.
Grant me the eyes to see where they are in the process, the patience to wait on your timing, and the joy of watching their growth towards you.
Take some time to day to journal about the friends you are praying for.
- Ask God to help you discern their journey and where they are on it.
- Ask God to give you insight on their spiritual need and how you might help their growth.
- Ask God to help you have a conversation this week with one of those friends to help them grow.
Spend some time writing out your answers.
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