Three mung beans and a wad of cotton wool was my first science project. We were to wet the cotton wool, carefully embed the beans in it, give the wool a bit of sunlight and bring our (hopefully) sprouted beans to class the following week.
I remember cupping the beans and wool in my hands with awe. I had the great responsibility of cultivating the life hidden in these mung beans. It was pretty awesome.
The process of nurturing seeds immediately brings to mind the famous parable of the sower (Matthew 13). The farmer goes out into the field and scatters seed, but the seeds meet different outcomes: snatched away by birds, lost among the rocks, choked by the weeds, and only those falling on good soil bore good fruit.
The take-home point: we are responsible for cultivating the life in the seeds that are sown in our garden.
Just hearing the Word is not enough, but we are to dig deep into the soil of our hearts, so that the Word has a place to lodge. There is a space in our soul for it to take root. It may stay buried for a winter, but at the right season, the shoot tip breaks through hard ground, greeting the world.
But, more than that, today this parable spoke to me about prophecy.
Prophecy is what Zechariah and Isaiah did when they told of the coming Messiah. It is seeing into the future, and catching God’s vision.
But, prophecy is also looking at a mung bean seed and seeing a plant. It is looking at something nondescript, humble, and seeing potential.
Prophecy is the man who found a treasure hidden in the field and sold all he had to buy that field (Matt 13:44), because he saw the potential in it. Prophecy is when we see people not as who they are, but for who they are going to be. It is when we give grace because we understand that they, just like us, are works of clay in progress.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest its branches.
When Jesus looks at a mustard seed, he doesn’t see the clay-colored small bead; he sees a full-grown tree. Get prophetic vision, He urges us, a vision that is assured of things hoped for, convicted of things not yet seen.
I believe that abortion happens when we lack that prophetic vision. We fail to see that though the seed in our womb may not have the same capacities as a full-fledged baby, what it possesses is potential. We fail to see the embryo for what it could be, but only for what it is right now.
I was on a morning run to catch the sunrise with a single mother from our home. She had had one abortion in the past, and was telling me the story of how she decided to preserve the life of the boy she was currently raising on her own. Young and unwed, she was scared when she found out she was pregnant again.
But, then, I visited my friend who was pregnant and she told me to put my hand on her stomach. Can you feel his hand? my friend asked me. I could, and I knew I couldn’t abort my baby. It was a life.
Her doctor, boyfriend and family tried to persuade her to abort, but the prophetic vision of what her baby was going to grow into was enough to keep her strong enough to raise her rambunctious little boy.
Often, the abortion debate is plagued with the dichotomy of pro-life and pro-choice, as if by being pro-life automatically precludes you from giving women choices.
But, many abortions happen precisely because women don’t have any other good choices.
They have not been given the chance to see prophetically into the potential of their seed, nor into the hope of a future that may be hard but rewarding. Without the right vision, they are incapable of making a good choice.
They do not see that being pro-life, pro-choice and pro-woman are actually one and the same thing:
This is why I was glued to my seat last night as I watched the grace and beauty of Wonder Woman unfold on big screen: she got the prophetic vision.
For all the horrors that humanity creates, and all the evil that overshadows our world, she caught sight of the seed that resides in each human soul – the nondescript, clay-colored round mustard seed of goodness. It is small, but it has potential and that is what we fight for each day – for the blossoming of the small mustard seed into a full grown tree.
My favorite was the last battle scene during her showdown with Ares, the god of war. He wants her to destroy Dr. Poison, to give the German chemist what she really deserved.
There is a glint in Wonder Woman’s eyes, as she remembers the words Steve Trevor spoke to her, then a flash of fury as she hurls the metal piece at Ares instead: