By Christine O'Brien
Jesus taught spiritual truths with real-life stories. As a parent, grandparent, or Sunday School teacher, you have probably read these stories hundreds of times. Have you ever noticed how many of Jesus’s parables are about seeds, plants, and growth? But these stories are more than just tips for the age of farming—they are rich lessons for us today. The parables teach us how to water, feed, and nourish spiritual growth in the children we have the privilege to lead.
Born and raised in New England, I’ve experienced my share of the four seasons. Gazing outside my office window on a chilly fall morning, I see one of my favorite trees in our front yard. Every year, the tree’s branches start to flourish in the late spring, and buds begin to poke out after a long winter’s beating. And at the start of summer, its strawberry-red blooms are stunning. But this morning, its branches are empty, and there are no visible signs of life. I am reminded that each tree starts as a tiny dormant seed. When planted in good soil, watered, supported, and cared for—the seed grows more and more each year until it becomes a strong, vibrant, flourishing tree.
Think about the hearts of the children that God has entrusted to your care. Some may already be sprouting and growing well in their faith. Others may seem more like empty branches, and others still like seeds. How do we awaken their hearts to come alive to the Gospel? The answer is that we cannot. Only God can break the seed’s outer shell and start the miracle of new life in their hearts. But like a gardener standing before her tiny vegetable plot in the spring, we don’t know what seeds will sprout. We faithfully water and care for them all—and trust God to provide the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6–7).
Here are five distinct “watering” cans to awaken, nourish, and nurture children’s hearts.
Fellow waterers, be encouraged with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9:
“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
We are servants of the Lord, ambassadors for these children who are brought into our lives for a season. We care for the tiny little seeds—hearts that might be still asleep, barely awake, or fully alive for Christ. Water away, fellow workers. You might not see strawberry-red blooms today. But I assure you, in faith, the blooms will abound. Do not become weary in the work that you are doing. A month from now, a year from now, or even a decade from now, there might be a strong, vibrant, flourishing believer who comes to find you and tell you all that God has done in their soul. Your heart will leap for joy over the visible fruit of a seed you played a part in watering.
Hearts Alive Sunday School and Children's Church provide liturgical congregations a highly-anticipated children’s curriculum that combines captivating content, lectionary alignment, and Gospel focus for children ages 3-12. For those seeking to engage children in a fun, age-appropriate application to the Revised Common Lectionary, Hearts Alive is a three-year course of study to give children a strong overview of the story of salvation and how it ties to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Hearts Alive supports and elevates liturgical traditions and the church calendar while using clear, contemporary learning techniques to present the Word of God. Learn more in our online community.
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