Sow What? The Quarantine Opportunity

A single wildflower in a sea of rocks
A single purple flower growing in a field of rocks shows the potency of a single seed.

Sow good seed, says the wise man, whenever you can. Quarantine has taken over the landscape of our lives. How can we take it back by seizing the opportunity it provides?

Happy Monday. Or is it Tuesday? Who knows–they’ve all run together into this one long day called quarantine. It feels like someone hit the pause button on our lives and then walked away. Too much time on our hands, but also, too little.

In this post I want to help us stop spinning in circles and face the facts. We are here. What can we do from here? I’ll let the Wise Man answer for me:

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Ecclesiastes 11:6

Sow? Yes. Now? No better time. Here? No better place. Sow What? That’s what we’re going to talk about.

What Then Should We Sow?

Seeds reproduce according to their kind. If you sow radishes, don’t expect strawberries. I’ve recently been pondering the fruit of the Spirit, a particular list of virtues that Paul gives us in Galatians 5. He lists 9 qualities:

For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Two quick observations. First, seeds reproduce according to their kind. That means our virtue comes by the Spirit from God himself. The list actually describes God’s character, then ours through the new birth. Second, love, listed first, is greater than the rest, and could be seen as the source of all that follows.

Let’s begin by sowing love, then, but before we can sow, we must receive it.

Receiving the Love of God

Why do we need to receive the love of God? Because he is the never ending spring of love, and we are the empty cups who constantly need to be filled.

The monotony of these quarantine days dulls our senses and makes us sleepy. At first we were motivated, even checking things off the “someday” list. Then came the long, slow slide into boredom and lethargy. Though we still believe that God loves us–doesn’t the Bible say that somewhere?–we don’t feel it when we’re half asleep. We need someone to wake us up with the bracing cold splash of God’s love first thing in the morning.

These uncertain times also spawn the kind of niggling doubts and questions that arise when things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. What is this Lord? Is this some kind of punishment? Is this the beginning of the end? We need to hear the reassurance that God’s love for us remains unchanged. It is the same initiating, sacrificial, seeking, saving love that it was in the beginning, when he came into the Garden to seek Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit.

Scripture is full of assurances about God’s love, with John’s gospel and letters listing the most references. We need to drink deeply from this deep well, because knowing and believing God’s love for you and me isn’t a one time action, but a lifetime habit that helps us abide in him.

So we have come to know and to believe the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

Receiving God’s love first fills our sack of seed. Now we’re ready to step outside and sow.

Sow Love for Someone Near

It’s easier to love someone far away and feel noble in the process. But my neighbor? The guy whose yard looks like a used car lot? The lady who complained to the neighborhood association about my dog instead of talking with me first? These are the people we’re called to love, even when– no especially when–they haven’t earned it.

What could we do in our own neighborhood? What small thing could you and I do or say that will make a difference when the quarantine is over and we all move on?

Here are some practical ideas I’ve seen around town:

  • a friendly wave is a good place to start
  • learn the name of a neighbor’s dog or baby
  • carry dog biscuits in your pocket
  • leave a box of give away books on your front porch
  • offer to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor
  • have a story time on your front porch so a young mom can nap
  • buy a plant and leave it at the front door of someone who needs it

And, of course, the biggest sacrifice of all … share your toilet paper or paper towels. What a seed of love that would be!

Sow Love for Someone Far

Now that we’ve taken steps to love our nearest neighbor, what about those who are far away? They may be easier to love, because they aren’t currently irritating us, but they are also hard to love, because as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” This might be a time for brainstorming ideas with your spouse or kids.

Is there a relative or friend or missionary who needs a little love right now? What small encouragement could we send their way? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • send a card to a relative who lives outside your city
  • call a friend who lost a pet during the virus
  • check in on someone who has lost their job
  • clip a cartoon and send it to your cousin
  • email a missionary with a photo of your family and one thing you prayed for them today
  • call and ask an elderly housebound relative how you can pray for him or her and pray it right back to them.
  • pass along any good news or good jokes that come your way

Simple things. Obvious things. I just wanted to seed your own thoughts, and encourage us all to remember that little things make a difference. So, as the wise man said:

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Ecclesiastes 11:6

Let me know what prospers in your neck of the woods.

The single flower has now become a field of purple flowers because God made it grow.
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