People are a lot like seeds.

Not the most flattering comparison, I know. But I’ve been thinking back to my elementary school days and all the pea plants I killed because I never grew a green thumb, and I can’t help but think – people are a lot like seeds.

Jesus compares us to seeds in the Parable of the Sower recorded in Matthew 13. In the parable, He remarks on how different things happened to the seeds depending on the kind of ground they fell on. Ultimately, it was the seeds that fell on fertile soil that grew to the point of fruitfulness. Others sprouted in environments they could not withstand and withered. But the first set of seeds caught my eye during my latest re-read of the parable. They were eaten by the birds and didn’t have the opportunity to sprout. Not yet, anyway.

Seeds don’t seem like much. To the eye they’re fairly unremarkable. Size or shape tells you nothing about their potential, and in a pile they hardly seem like one of a kind. But touch one and you’ll find that they’re quite sturdy. They can withstand careless or rough handling. As long as they aren’t broken, they can even pass through the body of an animal and remain intact.

For most seeds what makes them so tough is the outer layer known as the seed coat. Its main job is to protect the embryo by shutting everything else out. The seed coat will protect the seed until the environment is just what the plant needs to begin spreading out roots. Sometimes protecting the potential in the seed requires that the seed stays dormant for a long period of time.

In a perfect world, seeds would always fall into fertile soil, but that is not always the case. Not for seeds, and not for us.

Life’s trials, hurt and pain can cause us to lock parts of ourselves away. God-given talents, dreams and hopes can remain undiscovered or undeveloped. We grow in the physical, but remain spiritually or emotionally dormant because we don’t feel that we could survive if we let ourselves grow in the environment that we’re currently in. If we wait long enough, it’s easy to feel as though the potential in us has died and as though we missed our window.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a season for everything. Dormancy has its season. If a seed in the fruit of a tree in Mississauga were to try to grow immediately upon being separated from the fruit, it would not survive. Winter is coming, and the seed senses that now is not the time to germinate. But in the spring, temperatures will rise. Rain will fall. In that season, the seed will be able to sense that the time is right for the plant to leave the seed behind.

Dormancy and age don’t affect the quality of the seed. Botanists in the University of California had the opportunity to germinate lotus seeds that were over 1000 years old. They were successful because the potential in the seed was preserved and the seed still had the capability to determine that it had finally been given the environment it needed to grow.

There is a time to safeguard the talents and gifts that God put in us. There is also a time to step into them. There is a time where callings and buried hopes are raised up again. In one season, dormancy may have been the way to protect the capacity Jesus put inside of us. But let us be listening, so that our safeguards don’t become chains when the time comes to live beyond the seed.

I encourage you: continue to develop a relationship with Jesus. Talk with Him, but teach your ears to listen so that you can hear Him when He speaks to say:

“It’s time. It’s time to leave the seed behind.”

May you continue to experience extraordinary in Him!

Antrisha Balakumaran