Seed Time, Harvest Time

Choices we make are like planting seeds and actions we take like watering and tending the land. Have you planted something but don’t see any results? Are you sweating in the field of your dreams and close to giving up due to lack of progress? Don’t let your vision be choked by weeds or wilt in the heat. There’s a purpose in all this.

Choices we make are like planting seeds and actions we take like watering and tending the land. Have you planted something but don’t see any results? Are you sweating in the field of your dreams and close to giving up due to lack of progress? Don’t let your vision be choked by weeds or wilt in the heat. There’s a purpose in all this.

I have incredible respect for chemical-free farmers. There’s a reason organic produce costs more. Left to itself, nature is predisposed to grow weeds and kill fruits. Meditate on this and you’ll see it has a much deeper meaning, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Although I was born in rural Kentucky, I moved to the “big city” when still a toddler. Actually, there were several cities in which I lived, all across the Southeast and into Florida. Mostly, I grew up in Memphis, but a decent chunk of my teenage years were spent in “the valley” in Texas, near South Padre Island where MTV hosted their annual Spring Break series. Later, I finished high school and started college in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina.

As a “city boy,” I knew the concrete jungle well and managed to discover nearly every kind of trouble one can fall into while running those streets. I looked condescendingly upon “po-dunk rednecks” and their backwards hollows.

Why would I live in a place lacking a decent radio reception for anything other than country music? Shouldn’t I stay where there’s a convenient 7-11 around every corner? But home has a kind of gravitational pull that draws you back to your roots.  

By the time I reached early adulthood, I’d returned to Kentucky and settled for a mid-size city near my family. The last thing I wanted to do was farm or sweat in the sun.

But something strange happened and I began feeling a tug to greener pastures. Wearied by traffic and pollution and the incessant bustle all around me, I longed for a quieter existence.

Eventually, my wife and I bought a small homestead and decided to give country living a shot. I can say confidently now that I never want to go back. There’s something about rolling green hillsides caressed by cloud shadow that truly soothes my soul.

There’s something about spiraling stars serenaded by a thousand crickets below that stirs a renewed sense of awe and wonder within me. In many ways, it’s restorative and healing.

By no means am I knocking urban lifestyles. Indeed, the city has much to offer. I’m just staying that, for me, it’s more fun to visit than stay. Now, having a homestead meant we needed to do some “homestead-y” things, like starting a garden.

Being ambitious, I didn’t start small. No, we were all-in at this point. Our first year as pioneer settlers, we fenced in a 1,600 square foot plot of land and set about planting 12 different varieties of vegetables in 40-foot rows. We had no idea what we were getting into.

Farming seems simple, right? Dig a hole. Plant a seed. Water. Pick a tomato.

Wrong. Way wrong.

Like so many things, cultivating one’s land is a skill that must be developed, expanded through knowledge, and honed by experience. Although I suppose it was known intuitively, this is how the concept of “seed time, harvest time” became powerfully relevant to me.

If you’re inexperienced in this process, as I was, the first thing you need to know is that starting, tending, and harvesting a garden is hard work. Our soil has a high clay content, which is nutrient-rich but extremely difficult to till. There’s also rocks. Lots of rocks. Big ones, little ones, sharp ones…and they’re right in the way.

Before you can plant, you have to break up the ground. It doesn’t want to be broken up. You’ll sweat. You’ll get dirty. You’ll injure yourself. You’ll probably curse a little when the tiller belt breaks or the shovel handle snaps in two. Save yourself a headache and buy quality tools.

Then, after all that cultivation, you have to hill, dig holes, and set the plants or else crawl around poking seeds into the soil. You must water sufficiently. In Kentucky, in the heat of summer, the noonday sun will evaporate your irrigation before you even reach the end of the row.

You fertilize. Yes, it smells like it sounds and you have to touch it. The protection of gloves is an illusion. And then, just when your green babies try to spread leaves and stretch toward the sky, everything around them will grow faster and choke them by over-shading, stealing nutrients, and spreading disease.

For some reason, I was under the impression that once I tossed some seed over my shoulder then I could walk outside next week and gather a bucket of produce. But the reality of seed time is that you achieve little unless you first work your butt off. You sacrifice time, money, equipment, sweat, and sometimes blood burying your deposit in the ground.

And then…nothing happens…for a long time.

Of course, things are certainly happening, but they’re hidden, subterranean. To you, however, it will seem like you wasted your effort and have labored in vain. This is seedtime and it applies just as much to life and business as it does the farmer’s market.

Ask any successful entrepreneur and they will tell you that, in the beginning, you have to do an incredible amount of work, make substantial investments, and endure significant pain long before any payoff occurs. Conversely, the employee invests little and gets instant gratification.

They take a job and a week or two later have a check in their hand. But that is as far as their bounty goes. The business owner toils and watches the seemingly barren ground lay idle for months or even years, all the while battling the trepidation of intangible results.

This is also true of personal development. You decide to lose weight and go to the gym, pumping iron for hours…but see no results in the mirror the next day. You want to advance your career so you attend trainings and develop your skillset, listing it on carefully targeted resumes…but HR managers don’t line up to interview you the moment you post. You long to deepen your romantic relationship so you put out the vibe and make all the moves, taking her out to date after date but the intimacy craved doesn’t appear the first time you pay for dinner.

There’s no such thing as an instant crop. Beware of those that claim immediate results without putting forth the effort or time necessary. “Get rich quick schemes” are just that, schemes. It goes without saying, in life and business, if there’s no investment then there’s no return.

Many things operate according to this principle. Even an Olympic weightlifter will tell you, “First it hurts, then it grows.” No pain, no gain.

Sadly, the thing I see that most often trips people up when on the path to achieving great results is their lack of understanding the difficulty and the wait. But there’s no way around them. Entrepreneurs, company executives, and everyday people tend to quit when their desires don’t magically appear and the going gets tough. This is simply a lack of maturity.

To compound matters, the old “negative” seeds you’ve already planted in your business or personal life still have to come to fruition before your “new and improved” seeds can. For this reason, it often seems that, although you’re doing the right thing, the opposite of what you want keeps happening.

For example, the first month you try to tackle obesity you’re denying yourself Twinkies and choking back salads but continue to be winded when running and unable to squeeze into your favorite pair of blue jeans. Results aren’t instant so you quit because it’s hard and seems pointless.

Or your excessive corporate spending has left you deep in the red. Although you refrain from buying the latest equipment and forego employee bonuses, the interest keeps coming due and the creditors keep calling. Why, you wonder, am I doing the right thing but getting the wrong results?

You’re reaping the harvest of previous seeds sown. Typically, these negative seeds seem harmless at the time, but are only now producing their crop. This is the delay mechanism at work in the universe. We will reap what we sow. Every action has a consequence. Some are simply delayed because they’re growing, hidden beneath the soil of your lifestyle or company processes.

Eventually, if you don’t quit planting the good seeds, if you don’t stop taking the right actions despite what appears to be the opposite effect, the old crop will end and the new will come. “Don’t be weary in doing good, for in due season, we will reap, if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9). It’s that “don’t give up” part that is the key. If you do, you could abort your crop right as it’s about to sprout.

Watching those green shoots burst through the earth and rise tall against the sun is well worth the wait. The pain of planting vanishes once they drop their juicy abundance into your palm. But mind this word of caution regarding your seeds:

Just as a bad crop can materialize even as you take positive actions, so also may you plant diseased seeds but reap the healthy harvest of past good works. Don’t let this fool you. The crop of your current negative action IS coming although there seems to be no consequence; it’s just germinating beyond sight.

So be mindful that continually reaping a grand harvest is contingent on consistently taking the necessary steps, continually planting fertile seeds that will grow into a brighter future. If you’re taking positive action now personally or in your profession but are seeing opposite results, take heart. The new crop is delayed but growing even now and the old crop WILL undoubtedly end.

Press forward and don’t let up for a second. Every year, I learn how to overcome a new challenge attacking our garden: surprise late freezes, drought, blight, squash bugs, seedling fungus, acidic soil, and so on. The same will be true of you and the crop of abundant life you bring forth.

Sustaining and perpetuating it takes skill and hard work. But remember always seed time and harvest time. Built into the matrix of life is a delay system that requires perseverance to break through. Most consequences, good or bad, are not immediate.

So, like the patient farmer that sows, waters, and waits, choose the best seed possible and plant it in the garden of your dreams. Then wait. Even while you sleep, the powerful outcome will be growing beneath the surface. And when the time is right, you will reap your goals…if you don’t give up.

Until next time, don’t just be transformed: be Kinged.

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