Formations 03.07.2021: The Kingdom Grows

Mark 4:21-34

My daughter Samantha is sixteen, and my daughter Natalie is nearly fourteen. Looking at them now as they threaten to overtake my height by a couple of inches, it’s hard to picture them being small enough to carry around—much less being embryos growing inside my body.

In photo albums, I have pictures of myself at various stages during each pregnancy. The first image of me carrying baby Samantha, taken at around six weeks of gestation, is amusing because no one would ever know my flat belly contained a growing child. But the pride is evident in my face. I remember not noticing my belly growing each day, but by the time of the next photograph, it’s bigger by inches! That little embryo was busy getting bigger, moving, practicing breathing, and taking in nutrients from my own body.

The same magic happened after my girls were born. They seemed so small, but their bodies were growing and changing every second. These differences, barely noticeable from day to day, seemed astounding when I looked back at earlier photos of my babies. Now, in my mind I can still hear and see my children when they only came up to my waist—their high-pitched, curious voices; their small, soft bodies so easy to lift. But they are looking me in the eye today. They are thinking about their high school and college careers. They are pondering life after school. They are young women, nearing adulthood, and the magnitude of who they are becoming is stunning to me.

Is this how the kingdom of God grows—barely noticeable in the everyday moments, until one day we look back and are awed by the magnitude of what God has done? I know that’s been true in my own life. There are times when I can’t even sense God’s presence, when I wonder where God is or whether God is acting at all in the world. And then some time passes, and I inevitably look back at those difficult moments and see how much God was doing even when I didn’t notice. Somehow, the seed sprouted and grew without my awareness. It seems like the tree is suddenly in full fruit right in front of me, but the truth is that God was working subtly, quietly, nearly unnoticed all along to build God’s great kingdom. What a gift that I’m a part of it!


• How have you been surprised by the growth of plants, animals, and children around you? Did it seem to happen slowly or quickly?
• How have you been surprised by God’s work in your life or in the world when you least expected it?
• What are some ways that God works subtly, quietly, and nearly unnoticed?
• Why do you think God acts in these small ways to bring about the kingdom instead of flooding the world with it all at once?
• How can you be a part of God’s small, quiet acts of growth?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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