One of the Elders I work with mentioned something in a meeting that I have not been able to forget. He made a reference to the cocklebur and its seed that I just had to look up.
Apparently, according to the Penn State Extension website, the common cocklebur has two sets of seeds.
Each bur contains two brown to black achenes (seeds), one above the other. The lower seed can germinate immediately; the upper seed is dormant and does not germinate until months or often years later.
It is the second set of seeds that is intriguing. This elder said they can remain dormant for 30-40 and sometimes even 50 years before they take root and sprout. Can you imagine a seed remaining in the ground taking 40 years to sprout? Most of us would consider it dead and worthless, but that is simply not the case.
The reason I cannot shake this statement from my mind is because of the connection to faith. Jesus in Matthew 13 makes it very clear that the word of God is like a seed that is planted in the hearts of men. Most of us understand this concept of a tiny seed that takes root and grows throughout our lives. The application is made not only to our lives, but also to those with whom we share the gospel.
Here is the strange comfort to me, I want faith to be like the lower seed and germinate immediately. The reality is that sometimes, maybe most of the time, the seed is like the upper seed. It does not germinate for months or years or even many years. I can go about my life sharing my faith with numerous people and never see the seed take root. The lack of an immediate response does not mean the seed planted was worthless.
So today I am encouraged to just keep planting the seed of faith. The seed may not have taken root yet, but that is not necessarily the end of the story. Ask any farmer here in Missouri about how many cocklebur come up each year.