‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. – Mark 26-27
I remember when my daughter first learned to read. It happened quite suddenly. For weeks she had been laboring over the individual letters. She’d speak the sounds, one after another, as I showed her. “Buh,” she would say when I pointed at a “B”, then, “ee,” when we studied the next two letters. But when I would ask her what word this formed she would look at me with big, liquid eyes. She didn’t know. It was just sounds. They did not evoke the image of a little six-legged creature buzzing from flower to flower.
Then all at once she got it. The groups of letters coalesced in some new way and she was reading, just like that. That first evening she read a whole page to me. She not only sounded out the individual words, but she comprehended the sentences they formed. And when it was my turn and I picked up where she had left off, finishing the story, she followed along with a small, insistent finger.
After that, like most people do, she saw words even when some of the letters were out of place. And with practice she could make sense out of letter groupings like “neighbor”, words that sound differently than their spelling indicates they should. Some shift in comprehension had occurred, and I have no idea how it happened. It was as if there were an innate predisposition that suddenly kicked in. The leap from seeing only squiggles on a page to seeing the building blocks of communication was sudden and irreversible.
The discovery of our relationship with God happens in the same way. At first we are in the dark. We pray, and it feels meaningless, or we imagine that God is out of reach or disinterested. We have the building blocks of the relationship in front of us, but to comprehend them we must see in a new way. Then all at once our perception shifts, and there is God. God has been there all along, and now we understand this.
As with learning to read, we have an innate predilection to make that leap. We are born to it. God made us to be in relationship with God.
God holds our hearts in times of incubating beginnings like the earth holds seed in its dark embrace. Who knows when and how understanding quickens? We don’t see it until the stalks push up into the day. Then, all at once, there they are. And once they are there, they are there for good. In very short order it’s time to get out our sickles and harvest them.