Rev. Dr. Billy Burch
The Pumpkin Seed Principle
My family accuses me of being way into the seasons. It’s true. Autumn and Christmas especially. Springtime ushers in Easter and the beach beckons in the summer. Each season brings something completely different. But it is autumn now. We open our drawers to pull out favorite sweaters, hoodies, and flannels. Spices come off our shelves that haven’t been touched in 9 months, hoping they aren’t caked solid. Colors out of our dining room window changed from a deep green to a bright yellow. Crunching leaves pave the sidewalk.
Then there are the pumpkins. Brilliant orange, artistically round and rippled, various sizes— and priced accordingly. What would fall be without the proliferation of pumpkins? Pumpkins on the side of the road on a farm wagon for honest people who throw the ten-dollar bill in a slot cut out of a wooden lid. Pumpkins on the sidewalk outside the grocery store heavily overpriced. Pumpkins on porches surrounding stalks of corn and an occasional scarecrow. Couldn’t do without it.
I caught a glimpse of what it might be like to live through autumn without the leaves, yellows, and pumpkins. I was watching a San Diego Padres game in late September to see whether they might advance to the playoffs. I’m a baseball fan. (And by the way, it is ironic to me that baseball is known as a summer sport yet the height of the playoff frenzy comes in the fall). A commercial played between innings advertising how wonderful autumn is. It showed brilliant green grass, green leaves on the trees, and a grille. What? And then I remembered, “Oh yeah. I forgot this was a San Diego channel.” I now feel bad for people in San Diego.
I couldn’t do without pumpkins. They make great pies. And great faces. It’s no wonder why this country produces 1.5 billion pounds of it every year. I scooped out a load of seeds from a large pumpkin in preparation for the annual carving. My first thought was, “Man! There are a lot of seeds in a pumpkin!” It surprises me every year. “How many seeds?” I wondered. The average pumpkin produces about 500 seeds. And delicious when toasted and salted.
But I want to reverse the question. We can all sit and meticulously count the seeds in our pumpkins. The question, however, that boggles the mind is, “How many pumpkins in a seed?”
The seed is a miraculous wonder created by the clever hands of God. In it contains unmeasurable potential wrapped carefully with the ability to take in the nutrients of the soil, water, and sun. Then when mature, a pumpkin vine grown from one seed produces anywhere from 3 to 10 pumpkins. Those pumpkins, then, produce another 500 seeds each. If planted, those seeds each produce another 3 to 10 pumpkins each. And that just keeps going. You do the math. The multiplication is staggering… coming from just one seed.
The Bible uses the imagery of a seed to teach us the very same thing. Inside of you is that same potential. It’s a Kingdom principle that clearly states that you can make that kind of difference. Do you remember the parable of the farmer scattering seeds? Jesus used this to describe the ‘seed’ principle of which we have been speaking. In it, seeds were scattered in order to grow a crop. Some fell on the road, some in shallow soil, and some among thorns. Those crops didn’t fare so well. But then—
"Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"
Later Jesus explained the parable and seeds in the good soil.
“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
The point is simple: If we take the seed of God’s Word, plant it firmly inside of us, nurture it, water it, and tend to it, then a multiplication of fruit will appear. God determines the fruit and makes it grow. The potential for that is already in the seed.
Think also of the parable of the mustard seed—
Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”
Think of that tiny seed and all that which is contained inside it.
The apostle Paul tells us to
…be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
1 Corinthians 15:58
And that means nothing! Kingdom work is like that. So plant the seed. Because as he told young Timothy,
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:2
That is the ‘pumpkin seed principle’ and goes far beyond what we can imagine.
Be encouraged by the principle of the pumpkin seed. Our seeds of faith, seeds of the gospel, seeds of good deeds, and seeds of the Word of God all have incomprehensible potential and power to be used by God. Seeds are integral to our purpose in life. Jesus’ desire in John 15 is that we bear much fruit. And to that end, we live.