Once in a while, we reach a place where we don’t know what else to do.
That was the place where Executive Pastor Aries Zulkarnain’s (City Harvest) sermon began. “When you reach the place of ‘I don’t know’, the thing you need is not an answer or a solution. What you need is the perseverance to keep on sowing.”
Looking at the Parable of the Growing Seed in Mark 4:26-29, Pastor Zulkarnain noted that Jesus chose to use a parable to explain growth in the Kingdom of God, “because it is not so simple that it can be reduced to a principle.”
Similarly, when it comes to growth, there is no one proven method that works all the time. Pastor Zulkarnain referenced Mark 4:27, which says the farmer himself does not know how the seed grows.
“Many times, when someone asks you how you grew your cell group or how you got over divorce, your answer would be, ‘I don’t know’. Or you may have come to a place in your life where you don’t know what to do anymore. What you need may not be a solution or an answer. What you need is perseverance.”
He explained that though the farmer in the parable may not know how the seeds grow, he knows that he cannot stop sowing. Pastor Zulkarnain explained that growth is a mystery, but the act of sowing is putting pieces together to reveal the mystery – persevering especially when it’s hard to say “I don’t know” in a result-oriented and solution-minded world.
… growth is a mystery, but the act of sowing is putting pieces together to reveal the mystery – and it requires perseverance.
I DON’T KNOW ≠ I’M IGNORANT
When the farmer in the parable says he does not know how the seed grows, it doesn’t mean he is ignorant, Pastor Zulkarnain explained. The farmer is familiar enough with farming to know what he needs to do and when he needs to trust God.
“’I don’t know’ is not a state of ignorance, it’s a state of trusting God,” explained Pastor Zulkarnain. “In fact, if a person makes God part of a formula and expects Him to produce results – he is being ignorant.”
Pastor Zulkarnain recalled the recent drama of the 12 young footballers and their coach who were trapped in a cave for nine days in Thailand. He imagined that the boys would have asked their coach what to do, or if they were going to die. The coach’s answer would likely have been, “I don’t know”.
Yet they kept on sowing seeds of hope. “The coach may not have had ‘Nine steps to get out of a cave’ or ‘Five ways to go from cave-man to brave-man’,” Pastor Zulkarnain quipped. “But he kept on sowing. Every day he and the boys looked for a way out even though they had no guarantee of any result. Because one thing is for certain: If you give up and stop sowing, there is a guarantee of no results.”
Pastor Zulkarnain reminded the congregation that growth, results and deliverance come from God.
I DON’T KNOW ≠ WHAT I’M DOING IS INSIGNIFICANT
According to Pastor Zulkarnain, if you ask a young person what he wants to do, the answer is likely to be “I don’t know”. But Pastor Zulkarnain says there is no embarrassment in saying “I don’t know” if one really doesn’t know what God wants him to do.
“Saying you don’t know doesn’t make you insignificant. It just shows that you are not sure of the significance of what you are doing at the moment.”
Going back to the illustration of the farmer, Zulkarnain said that when the farmer did not see instant growth from the seeds, he did not start eyeing his neighbour’s farm, or think that he was in the wrong career.
… you may have come to a place in your life where you don’t know what to do anymore. What you need may not be a solution or an answer. What you need is perseverance.
He emphasised that the lack of instant results does not mean that the seed sowing is insignificant. “You don’t need a bigger assignment to prove your significance – your significance is in your current assignment.”
Zulkarnain gave the example of British diver John Volanthen, one of the divers who rescued the young Thai footballers. Volanthen had said after the rescue: “I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”
Purpose, the pastor explained, is the intersection where opportunity and preparation meet. He encouraged the congregation to keep on giving their best to the things they are doing, even if they don’t yet know what their destiny is.
One day, Goliath will show up and God will send the most prepared person to face the giant, said Zulkarnain. “Your worst adversity will always come at the time you are most prepared.”
In 1 Samuel 17:11-14, David showed up when Goliath was threatening the Israelites. He was not a soldier, but David was faithfully performing his assignments as a shepherd and delivery boy.
Speaking to the students in the congregation, Pastor Zulkarnain said, “You may think that what you are studying now has nothing to do with your passion or future assignment as a preacher or pastor. But you are wrong. Tending sheep certainly didn’t look like it would equip David to fight Goliath, but God always works through your current assignment. You must always be faithful first, then you can become full of faith.”
Turning his attention to the adults, Pastor Zulkarnain then said that they might think that their current job is not going to bring them to success, but maybe God is waiting for them to learn to be faithful in their current assignments before promoting them to the next.
Purpose … is the intersection where opportunity and preparation meet.
I DON’T KNOW ≠ I AM INCAPABLE OF VICTORY
Pastor Zulkarnain turned to Exodus 3:10-14, where God told Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. When Moses told God he did not know how to do it, God’s reply was not about the how – but the who.
“When you don’t know how to do things, then turn to the who – turn to Jesus!” Zulkarnain exclaimed. He encouraged the church to depend on Jesus, because He is the one who will bring them into victory.
In closing, Pastor Zulkarnain listed the Bible heroes who went through hard times and yet did not stop sowing. Ultimately, God always lifted them out of their situations into victory.
This article was first published on Citynews’ website, and is republished with permission.