This Short Story, The Seed, shares the story of an Old Man planting his last remaining seed, and watching how it brings a greater Return On Investment than all the other seeds he had because he chose to give it all away. The principle is that we must humble ourselves and die to self for God’s love to outwork blessing.
In the story, the Old Man farmer had to lose the seed – it had to die – like our pride must too in order for God’s love to be outworked. When we stand up for self, or listen to negative advice, we cripple the Lord’s capacity to outwork His purposes.
When we do finally ‘get it’; humble ourselves and act in faith and obedience (no matter whether it is at the beginning, middle or end of our lives) then He can and indeed will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, outwork a miracle and blessing is inevitable.
The Old Man looked at his friend eyes open wide in horror. “Plant it!” was all his friend had said, yet the words were like an arrow through his heart. What made those words more powerful though was that the Old Man knew instantly that this was good advice.
They were leaning on the verandah of his old broken-down hut, looking out over a land full of weeds, overgrown with years of neglect.
The Old Man reached for another cigarette and lit up. He smoked, a lot. It was his way of coping with the pressures of the world. He was a wily old coot this man – a man of action, but who was now tiring as he aged. He hobbled around now on crutches and knew that it wouldn’t be long and he’d be meeting his maker.
He hoped that he’d make it through the Pearly Gates and did lots of good things for others to do the best he could to pass muster at the call up yonder. What really bugged the Old Man however was that he lacked vision. It was as if life had passed him by and he no longer had any drive to achieve – something that he’d always had keeping him working, doing, acting and moving forward. It was as if his death on the inside meant more than his outward aging and that really worried him.
They were talking about his last remaining seed left to him by his father. His father had left him a packet of different seeds as his inheritance along with a cryptic note, “A wise man invests before he eats”. He knew what his father meant the moment that he had opened his will. Too many of his brothers and sisters had sold their seeds and eaten them, yet he knew how hard his father had worked for his sake over the years. He knew that those seeds were all he needed to live a full and productive life.
His many children had in turn watched him as year upon year he had planted those seeds and they had helped him as they grew and repoduced. Bountiful harvests though were all gone now – the production was finished; the children had all gone and so had the seeds . . . all except this one.
The Old Man had kept this seed for some strange reason. It was a little black one and he was too scared (perhaps even a little proud if he was honest about it) to plant it, especially now that there was no one to help him with the harvest.
“A seed is designed to reproduce isn’t it?” his friend carried on explaining. “You can do it I know!”
The Old Man nodded but replied uncomitingly, “I’ll think about it!”
The storm had passed and the sun was out. It was going to be a beautiful day, so his friend suggested that they walk into the hills. They ambled along at the old man’s speed looking at the damage from the storm. The Old Man was sad to see his years of hard work look like what it was – old and dilapidated but he could do nothing about it now so didn’t even mention it to his friend.
They reached the top of the first rise, and they paused to take a rest. “My mother told me to never work the hills you know?” the Old Man mused. “Too many troubles up there she had warned. Much easier to work the low-lands”, he added to explain her reasoning.
“It’s a great day for a walk. Let’s keep going,” his friend suggested, ignoring the Old Man’s negativity, so they did.
They ambled along, chatting at times – silent at others, just enjoying the day and each others company.
“Too many brambles up here!” the Old Man muttered as he caught his foot. “But at least there’s no-one else that comes here!”
His friend pointed and said, “There’s a nice patch over there for a garden!”
They made their way off their path and into a North-facing slope that caught the sun.
They sat down on a couple of rocks that overlooked a little clear patch and surveyed the scene together. The contours of the land were perfect and the soil was soft and nutritious. The Old Man picked up a handful and let it run through his fingers.
“You’re right. I’ve never seen soil this rich before! Maybe it’s because it has never been used for a garden that it’s so healthy?”
“And it’s almost like the storm has cleared it for us just today too . . .”
The Old Man’s friend left the little suggestion hanging there, hoping that the Old Man would take the bait.
“You know, I think I’m going to plant my last seed right here, you know?”
Pleased that the Old Man finally had a vision at long last, his friend suggested that the Old Man wait there while he ran back to get it.
“No. Don’t bother!” the Old Man shrugged off the suggestion as if he didn’t care.
His friend was confused and looked at the Old Man trying to work out if had given up on the idea or . . . and then he saw the little wry smile in the corner of the Old Man’s mouth.
The Old Man winked, and then reached into his pocket.
“You . . . you have it?”
The Old Man tossed the packet into the general direction of his friend and laughed as his friend launched himself forward in a desperate dive to catch it.
They laughed together as he sprawled onto the ground with the old packet with the one last seed in it firmly in his hands.
The Old Man looked around and pointed, “Get me that stick, so I can whittle a fid!” and he spent a minute sharpening the point with his pocket-knife.
They walked together to the patch that the storm had cleared of weeds and made a little hole with the fid. The Old Man pushed the fid into the ground easily and his friend popped the seed into the hole. They covered it with soil and returned to the Old Man’s hut by a different track.
“You know, when you think about it, it’s quite beautiful up there in that wilderness, isn’t it?” the Old Man mused as they were eating their lunch. “As long as you can climb the hill and are happy to pull the weeds, of course.”
“Yes it really does have character to it doesn’t it?” his friend replied.
The seed grew and grew – a plant the likes of the Old Man had never seen before. Every day he would hobble up to the hills and over to the other side where his plant was and tend it. He kept on clearing more and more until eventually there was a huge area covered in what looked like a pumpkin vine.
One yellow flower emerged and then another. A small vegetable grew from the base of the flower then same as a pumpkin did, but these were different – smooth and a dark green. They grew bigger and bigger and a plentiful crop of vegetables (or were they fruits?) lay spread over the ground. When the vine started to die back the Old Man knew from his years of experience farming that it was harvest time.
Curious, he took a knife with him up to the vine and cut open one of the now-ripe vegetables. It was a strange one. He’d never seen this kind of vegetable before. It was pink inside, with a thousand black seeds just like his father had given him, and so full of juice it was amazing. He touched a little juice on his tongue and it was sweet – like a melon. It was delicious. He sliced it into pieces to make it easier to eat and devoured as much of it as he could.
Back at his home he looked at the huge watermelon on his table. It was all he could do to hobble back with one of them. He wondered how on earth he could harvest all his watermelons and what on earth he would do with them even if he could harvest them all.
His friend came by and marvelled at the new fruit. He’d seen photos of watermelons and there was a story in the village that somebody a long time ago had grown a fruit that was full of water. This must be it . . . and it tasted delicious!
“Leave it to me!” his friend told the Old Man as if his problem to harvest so many fruit from the hills was not a care in the world.
It was only one boy that came by to start with. He had tasted the watermelon and liked it. He had a carry bag and walked all the way past the Old Man and into the hills to get his watermelon. He thanked the Old Man on the way past going home and offered him a couple of bucks as a thank you.
“No son, you keep your money. You need it more than me!” The Old Man always did that to the boys, even though he had nothing of his own.
It was early on a Saturday morning and the Old Man was awoken by a commotion outside. He would usually be awake by now except that for some reason he had slept in. He could hear noises and people talking outside his door. They were wondering if he was OK. Some were suggesting that he might had died in the night. Others were trying to look in through the windows and there was loud knocking on the door.
He arose and opened the door. Gosh it seemed like half the village was standing there, all with carry bags and baskets.
His friend really had done it now!
The Old Man gave them all his approval to go and collect their watermelons and watched as they filed their way through his lands, up and over the hill and out of sight. “They look like a trail of ants,” he thought as they walked in the distance.
The boys had spoken amongst themselves about the soil in the hills and how luscious everything was up there. It would be no problem for them to clear the brambles and weeds for they were strong and there were many of them. Many hands make light work as they say.
The Old Man gave them permission to grow their vegetables up there and it wasn’t long before there was a steady progression of boys trundling up the hills daily to work their gardens. Every day without fail they would swing by with vegetables and fruit for the old man, in time there were a huge variety of nuts and delicacies from seeds that had been gifted from visitors who all wanted to come and see what the boys had been growing.
Word had gotten out on the Internet too and people from around the world were bringing gifts and helping the Old Man who had grown all the watermelons from just one seed. They helped him rebuld his house and cared for him as he aged. Some of his family came back from overseas to stay and to be part of the excitement of what was happening in the hills.
He was tiring now and age was catching up with him. He hadn’t been up to the hills since he had picked the first fruit, but it was nice when he could see the fruits of his labour going to good use nonetheless. He pondered the last seed and how in a strange way it had done more than any of the other seeds from his father. Every year he had kept back a few seeds from each of the vegetables and in that way he had fed his family as they had grown, but with this seed it was like he had fed the entire village! And more than that, the entire village now had seeds that they could plant and feed their families forever.
Then to think of what had happened with people from around the world coming to see the gardens in the hills, how on earth could he have ever dreamed that something he ignored for so many years could bring such joy, and pleasure and goodwill as it had? Never in a million years could he have foreseen this all!
He thought back to his father’s cryptic note and mused that indeed he had invested, by planting that seed. Oh why oh why hadn’t he done this years before . . . the soil in the hills was a volcanic loam much better than the soil on the flat. It just needed a little more work to get there and tend but the return on investment was much higher.
No, sad to say, while he loved his mother and she was very pragmatic and good woman, she was wrong . . . the hills can produce good fruit – in fact the best fruit!
And the idea that he should feed others before himself . . . hadn’t that been proven with the village now feeding him daily?
Truly, his father must have known a thing or two.
He turned to his friend and mentioned this. “I wish you had known my father. He was a very wise man. You would have loved him a lot!”
“But surely you know that I’m His Son too?”
“I thought so . . .” the Old Man said knowingly, thinking of all the help, love, advice and friendship his friend had given him. “I see it all now and understand . . . “