Once there was a man who wanted to plant a garden. He didn’t want a tiny garden, the sort that some people plant to pass their idle hours. He wanted a full-fledged vegetable garden of potatoes, beans, squash, carrots and onions—in short, a garden of any vegetable that would grow.
The man purchased a field—a flat, square tract of land rich with moist, brown soil. He spent months choosing only the best seed. When spring came and the snow melted, he waited until the ground was just right. Only then did he plow the field. And after the field was plowed, it was time to sow.
The man had thought to plant his garden toward the end of March. By then it was usually mild, and April never brought frost. That particular year, however, March was exceptionally windy. He waited.
Aren’t you going to plant the garden?” the man’s wife asked. “It’s almost April, you know.”
“Too windy,” the man muttered. “The wind will blow the seed away. We won’t have a thing. It’s better to wait until the right time.”
Every morning the would-be-gardener awoke with the sun. He put on his overcoat, went outside and checked the breeze. And every morning he came back into the house shaking his head, saying, “It’s too windy. The breeze is too threatening. It’s better to wait until the right time.”
April was ending and May was just around the corner. The garden still was not planted. Slowly it began to dawn on the gardener’s wife that the garden would never be planted, at least not at that rate.
One bright morning late in April when the man went out to check the wind, his wife came along. “The breeze,” he muttered again. “It’s sure to pick up. I’ll have to keep waiting.” He changed his clothes and went into town on an errand. His wife waited until he had gone. She awakened their son, and the two of them hurriedly planted all the seed as best they could.
Upon his return, the would-be-gardener saw his wife and son hard at work in the field. “What have you done?” he cried.
“You never would have planted it yourself, “the wife said. “Then in truth we would have had nothing.”
As luck, fortune, or Providence would have it, very few of the man’s precious seeds blew away in the wind. The garden sprouted plants of all varieties, shapes and sizes. There were rows of carrots, patches of squash and climbing vines of cucumbers. As the summer passed, it became obvious that the man’s garden would produce plentifully. There would be enough not only for the gardener’s family and neighbors, but enough to sell at the market as well. Soon it was time to harvest the crops.
The man awoke early one morning to pick beans. Looking out of his window, he saw a grey sky and drizzling rain. “It’s no use harvesting today,” he thought. “I’d catch a cold for sure.”
The harvest months that year were unusually cloudy and rainy. Every day the gardener hesitated to pick his beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. Again he waited and waited, watching the clouds for the weather to be “just right.” Unfortunately, by that time the beans had been all but destroyed by rabbits. The tomatoes were rotting, and the cucumbers were soft and mushy. The gardener barely managed to salvage enough of these for his family. With his wife’s help, he was able to bring in the squash and the potatoes before they rotted, but the man’s harvest yielded only one third of what it should have yielded.
The gardener in this story had a difficult lesson to learn—a lesson that we all need to take to heart. Ecclesiastes 11:4 warns, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow, and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” The gardener watched the wind every morning, waiting for just the right time to sow his seed, but the “right time” never came. Someone else had to plant the field for him. Then he delayed harvesting his crops, “watching the clouds” until the weather would be just right. It never was.
In the same way, those of us who wait until “just the right time” to sow gospel seeds will not sow at all; and those who wait for “the perfect time” may never see fruit. The great commission of Matthew 28:19, 20 is for all time, not just the right time. In the same way, the Apostle Peter urges that we should always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us—that is, at all times, not “just the right time.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 goes on to say: “As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, even so thou knowest not the works of God, who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.”
We do not know what God will do. For the most part his activity is a mystery to us, just as the path of the wind and the forming of a child were mysteries to the writer of Ecclesiastes. The same writer urges us to sow our seed continually, both morning and evening, because even though we do not know what God will do with the seed we sow, he alone will bring success to our efforts.