There’s an old Irish joke about the world’s greatest invention, in which the punch line revolves around the Irishman’s selection of venetian blinds for the title, on the basis that “If it weren’t for venetian blinds, it would be curtains for all of us!” The off-the-wall selection reflects a pattern of thinking foreign to our notions of power and grandeur.
And yet as I reflect upon the many wonderful aspects of creation, the seed has to stand out as one of the most intriguing and glorious of all aspects. It is the seed which has allowed the transfer of mighty oak trees across the oceans. It is the seed which has enabled nations to be fed with the produce of another land. It is the seed, for all its smallness, which encapsulates the wonder of possibility and potentiality.
At the other end, we have witnessed the seed’s power for destruction, through the importation of weeds and viruses which have devastated agriculture. The blight of Patterson’s curse is but one example of the seeds potential in this regard.
To look at every moment as a seed: filled with creative and destructive potential, is to recognise the creative power that God has placed into our hands. An encouraging word might be enough for one person to continue on a journey which has the potential to benefit many others. A small gift might bring the light of cheer into a dark moment for another. One phone call to express our remembering of another has the potential to bring hope to another.
The Epistle of James in the New Testament underlines the power of the little things: the bit which steers a horse; mighty ships which are turned by a small rudder, a match which can start a forest fire; the power of the tongue to bless and to curse (see James 3). The world’s greatest influences are often found in the apparently insignificant.
Each day comes to us as a seed. Let us never underestimate the potential of a single moment, or of a single encounter within that day, in its ability to reveal the kingdom of God, or to tear it down.
When Jesus said “whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant”, he expressed the power of the little and insignificant to bring about greatness.
February 15, 2004