Recently my green thumb began to have it’s annual springtime itch, so naturally I planted a pepper garden. Setting it all up on the balcony of my apartment, I purchased pepper seeds, clay pots, and potting soil. The itching green thumb subsided once the seeds were planted; however, there was one major problem: the trees in front of my balcony blocked any and all sunlight. Regardless of the time of day (I spent my entire off-day observing this) my newly planted garden was plagued by the trees shadow. Perhaps you are not keen on gardening rules so I’ll let you in on a secret: If you have zero sunlight then you will receive zero produce. Epic fail. Time wasted. Green thumb begins to itch again! As I sat on my balcony lost in thought, and quite agitated I might add, my science education relieved me. The energy provided by the sun to power plant growth is delivered in energy packages called photons. These photons begin to work at a molecular level within the plant via the very familiar process called Photosynthesis. Here’s the principle that most people forget: Even on a 100% cloudy day energy from the sun still reaches the Earth (If you don’t believe me then purchase a photon-meter and observe for yourself). I hypothesized that the energy from the sun would still reach my balcony, even if it was hidden in the shadows. For two weeks I watered those plants in the shadows, almost religiously, and with each new day I found that my confidence was growing. Finally one evening, after work, I stepped out onto my balcony and saw the first signs on germination. Little green forms of life were bursting through the soil! Within a week it literally looked as if I was growing a bush in these plants. Let me be vividly clear for you: I had so many pepper stalks springing forth that I was forced to “thin them out” to prevent overcrowding in that little clay pot. Against all odds life was thriving on my balcony in the shadows.
Perhaps it’s the “preacher” in me but I see good encouragement in that. I am thinking not of a certain verse, but rather just the general flow of the entire book of Acts. I have often thought that the author of Acts describes the early movement of the Gospel as something of an indestructible freight train roaring across the first century world. You can stand against it but you will not prevail. Indeed it will not be stopped and you will be pummeled in your attempt to derail this locomotive. For example consider Acts 13 when Elymas the magician attempted to prevent Paul and Barnabas from preaching the Word of God to the proconsul Sergius Palus. The Bible is clear that Elymas was actively opposing the movement of the Gospel by “seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.” (Acts 13: 8) Ironically, in a dramatic and miraculous moment, the man who sought to blind others was struck blind by the power of God. Long story short, the now blind Elymas was led away by his hands and the proconsul he sought to lead away, believed the Word of God. Friends, the book of Acts is a deep well rich in historical narratives regarding the early movements of the Gospel. The conclusion is easy: The Gospel is unstoppable.
The Bible is confident. I am confident. You are confident. We have the privilege of reading about this unstoppable movement 20 centuries later. But for a moment put yourself in the shoes of the apostles. Locked away in that upper room, Christ ascended into heaven, and the Great Commission still freshly ringing in your ears. I often wonder if the apostles thought that this Gospel was like a seed planted in the shadows. What I do know is that they were faithful to water that seed. It soon germinated and bursted forth rising upward into a stalk; thriving, flourishing, and moving from a plant to a bush to a full blown garden. History is our witness, the Gospel is simply unstoppable. This encourages me. Specifically when I am continually reminded of the trees casting shadows in this world such as: terrorism, oppression, and hatred. As a follower of Christ, 21 centuries after the first seeds were planted, I am confident that the Gospel is still unstoppable. I am confident that the purpose of God will prevail. I am confident that the light of God’s truth is still driving out the darkness. I am confident that this Gospel will reach the ends of the Earth. I am confident that even in a world of shadows God is still able to grow His garden. Don’t let the world bring you down Christian. Just be faithful to water and rejoice for our God is unstoppable.