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Sowing & Reaping

Polymer clay relief sculpture depicting the parable of the sower from Matthew's gospel
The Sower, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture, Sara Joseph

The spiritual principle of the act of sowing and reaping brims over with potential for exploration as an artistic theme. Of course, only when it is a life style practice do we really experience its power. It would help to read the parable that inspired this work in Matthew 13:18-23

God commanded us to sow the riches of His word, the mysteries of His kingdom, in order to bear fruit worthy of His excellence.

The picture trail below demonstrates some of my process for the work above. I don't always work this way, responding differently to each creative challenge. If you, like me, are also not method bound, it may help to know you're not alone!

Step 1 of The Sower, a rough sketch in clay by Sara Joseph
The Sower, Step 1, Polymer Clay, Sara Joseph
Step 2 of the Sower, the body of the woman sculpted in polymer Clay
The Sower, Step 2, Sculpting the Body

The sculpture began as a rough sketch in clay of the form and gesture of the unclothed sower. She was tweaked many times before settling on the final design.

Slices of polymer clay from a patterned cane.
The Sower, Step 3, Making the Cane for the Dress

The polymer clay cane that formed her dress took some time to slice and shape as draped fabric on her body. Adding the pages of the Bible in her hand came next.

Polymer clay relief of a woman in pink and lavender holding the pages of the Bible in her hands.
The Sower, Step 4, Clothing Completed

Then I got quite carried away depicting the thorny ground! I must've been in a stressful season at that time. My art always expresses my journey with the Lord, making it a personal record of its highs and lows. I had to trim this portion of the sculpture quite a bit to make it fit! I left it large here to indicate how much worry can cripple the power of His Word in our lives!

The tender sprout among rocks came next, followed by the fruiting tree with the final details of the work. I collaged handmade Thai paper into the background, for added textural interest. There is a cross, also shaped from paper, to the right of the work.

Polymer Clay relief sculpture detail from The Sower showing an open Bible among thorns with s shoot sprouting in the middle.
The Sower, Step 5, On Thorny Ground

A polymer clay sculpture detail of an open Bible with a shoot among rocks.
The Sower, Step 6, On Rocky Ground

The principle of sowing and reaping appears rather self-explanatory. Whatever you sow, you will reap.

It is often taught as a principle for multiplying good actions in life and a fail safe formula for avoiding bad consequences.

However, when Jesus taught about sowing and reaping, He was referring to the principles of the kingdom of God.

Although the seed had potential within itself to grow and produce much fruit, the condition of the soil was a greater determinant of its ultimate productivity.

Keeping the soil of the heart soft and receptive, while jealously guarding it from apathy, greed, worries and hardness of heart, is possibly the best formula for fruit bearing.

It seems to me that God is far more interested in the condition of our hearts, while we obsess about sowing and reaping. If we were perfectly honest, we'd admit to enjoying reaping more than sowing. What would be even better (if we could get away with it) is reaping without sowing!


All too often, we doubt the power of the seed to multiply more than we critique the condition of the soil of our hearts.


The parable describes the passage of time, the heat of the day, the choking of thorns, the stealing of birds and the receptivity of good soil. Sowing and reaping only happens in the context of extended time. Nothing about it is instantaneous, which is not a comfortable concept for my impatient nature! However, the promise of receiving more than just the seed sown is incentive enough to treat this principle with respect.

A single seed does not produce a lone seed but rather many fruits, bearing

thousands of seeds for the future!

Polymer clay relief sculpture of fruit on the branches of a tree.
The Sower, Detail, Sara Joseph

Using every means available to us, we are to spread the truth of the Bible like a sower scattering precious seed.

Sowing God's word reaps transformed lives, brings peace to the restless, comfort to the broken and makes winners out of hopeless people! However, its greatest power is beyond our ability to fully grasp as earth dwellers, when Zoe, eternal life, is manifested as a tangible expression of heaven on earth.

As recipients of this precious seed, we are instructed to faithfully sow. Some seed will fall on rocky or thorny ground and some be lost to the birds, but if we persist, good ground will receive some as well. Those are guaranteed to produce fruit in season.

It never ceases to amaze me that the divine Maker of seed ordained that there be no harvest unless we are faithful to sow. That He would choose to partner with fickle human beings is mind-boggling!

While He has equipped us with the helpful presence of the Holy Spirit, He does not engage in the actual sowing. That has been left to us. We are His agents assigned to this monumental task.

When we look at the withering sapling on rocky ground, it is tempting to quit in despair. Shoots choked by thorns will scream that it is futile to sow and birds that swiftly snatch up seed from the common path will mock us with their cunning. Together, everything will conspire to shout the very thing we must NOT do,

"It is in vain, so stop sowing!" That could not be further from the truth!

Just one sturdy, mature tree would make all our labors well worth it. There is always good soil somewhere, which yearns for seed.

I resolutely determine to be faithful to sow in every season, until my time as a sower on earth is up. I pray that this is also your resolve. Perhaps this resource will further help you creatively explore these truths.

Our Master will one day assess our productivity. May you merit His "Well done!"

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