Steps of faith — big or small — are part of God’s process in people’s lives. But sometimes we are too focused on an individual step of faith, and on whether or not we see it making a difference. We fail to see God’s process for bringing about change.
Do you ever feel like the steps of faith you are taking are not producing the results you desire?
In this post we explore why we feel that way and how to change our perspective so we have more to celebrate, and less to complain about.
Remember where fruit really comes from
We have so many resources right at our fingertips. If you ask somebody what they do when they want an apple, they will likely reply, “Five-minute trip to the store, buy an apple, bring it back home, eat the apple.”
How easily we forget though that this is not the full process for obtaining apples.
If you want to get apples, someone has to plant a seed. You have to till the soil, fertilize the soil, water the soil, nurture the plant, and prune the tree before you ever get a harvest.
Did you know that this process, from seed to apple, takes 6–10 years?
That is how you get apples. The seed takes time, so the one planting it needs patience — lots of patience. And every step along that journey makes a difference to the fruit you eventually see.
Not surprisingly, Jesus used a similar analogy to highlight how the steps of faith we take make a difference.
Steps of faith can be the seeds you scatter
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground” (Mark 4:26, NIV).
My friend Mitchell loves to scatter seed, in the figurative sense.
When Mitchell met Elliot in business school, Elliot was a science-minded agnostic who did not think much of Jesus. But Elliot had plenty of questions.
Mitchell took a simple step of faith by befriending Elliot. He took another by letting Elliot know he was interested in his perspective on life.
So they sat next to each other in class, grabbed lunch together and played an occasional round of golf. Over time their conversations deepened to include faith and Jesus. As Elliot began to trust Mitchell, he became curious enough about his Christian friend to accept an invitation to church.
Offering that invitation was another seed being scattered along the path Elliot was taking on his spiritual journey. As was Mitchell’s decision to buy Elliot his first Bible.
Everyone is on a spiritual journey. What Mitchell’s story taught me is that we take steps of faith by walking alongside people and scattering seed along the path we are walking together.
Some of those steps feel scarier than others. Inviting Elliot to church must have felt like more of a risk than asking him out for lunch. But every step matters.
So who are you choosing to walk alongside? How are you scattering seed along the way?
It is God’s job to produce growth
“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mark 4:27, NIV).
I love this picture. Night and day, it is always happening. No matter what this guy is doing, the seed still sprouts and grows. Even when he has no idea what is going on under the soil, the growth still happens.
What does this say about our responsibility in the growth process? The weight of the whole process does not belong on our shoulders. Not only that, but we can expect the early stages of growth to take place before we even see it.
How does it feel knowing it is not your responsibility to make other people grow?
You cannot control how anyone responds
“All by itself the soil produces grain — first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (Mark 4:28, NIV).
Jesus told another parable — one you may be familiar with — about a sower who scattered seed that landed on four different types of soil. Some fell on hard ground. Others fell in shallow, rocky soil. Others fell among thorns. But seed that fell on good soil grew, produced fruit and multiplied.
I look at that parable and realize I have friends whose path to knowing Jesus included all four soil types. People came into their lives, loved them and softened the soil. When the soil was right, they were receptive to hearing both the gospel and how they could know God personally. At this point the fruit became visible.
Every little conversation when you listen well, and every act of kindness, cultivates the soil in a person’s spirit. Another Christian may be the one to witness the moment when fruit becomes more visible, but every step of faith along the way matters.
Have you ever considered that God uses you to change the condition of the soil in the life of someone you know, so faith can grow in that person?
See the bigger picture as you take your faith step
“As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:29, NIV).
Remember Mitchell, my friend who scattered seed in the life of Elliot?
When I met them both during their senior year of college, Mitchell had already invested so much time and energy in Elliot that the fruit God was producing was clearly visible.
For that to happen, Mitchell had to scatter seed and soften the soil without any clear sign that it made a difference.
Over a Christmas break I met Elliot at a Starbucks, explained to him how he could know God personally, and saw him give his life to Jesus Christ. Mitchell had walked alongside Elliot much more than I had, but we both knew that it was God who brought about the real transformation.
So Mitchell and I know exactly what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6, NIV).
So are you willing to take whatever steps of faith God asks you to, so that he can bring about the growth in someone you care about?
Take your next step of faith
If you are reading this post, we presume you want to make a meaningful difference in the life of someone you know. You want to grow in your faith, and we believe that happens as we trust God.
Use the MissionHub app to identify specific people you want to take a step of faith with, and choose the steps you want to take.
To learn more about walking alongside others on their journey toward Jesus, read “What brings a person to faith in Jesus?”