AN AMAZING FACT: Corn is the most abundant crop grown in the U.S., more than twice that of any other. It is also one of the most versatile of all plants. Corn is used to make everything from flour, syrup, starch, oil, livestock feed, paint, soap, linoleum, nylon, antibiotics, lipstick, gasoline, and much more.
But when corn was first planted in the Americas it was nothing like the robust specimens we see blanketing the plains today. The plants were only about three feet tall, and the small uneven ears had scattered kernels. In order to improve their crop, farmers would look for the largest ears of corn with the most kernels to use as seed for the next year. Then in the early 1900s, botanists discovered they could combine the best qualities of different varieties of corn to develop hybrids. To produce these hybrids, different varieties of corn would be planted in adjacent rows. The tassels of the first variety would be removed, preventing it from releasing its pollen. The second variety, its tassels intact, would then pollinate both rows. The ears that grew from the stalk of the first variety would have the hybrid seeds. They found that this simple act resulted in higher yields and healthier plants. They called it “hybrid vigor.”
Today most of the corn grown in the U.S. Corn Belt is hybrid and reaches about eight feet tall. But some varieties can grow to over 20 feet! In a way, the hybrid crosses are like the biblical mustard seed—something great from humble origins. The kingdom of God operates on the same principle. Jesus didn’t choose the wealthy and powerful to be His disciples—He worked with humble fishermen. Yet the message that took root in the hearts of those unsophisticated Galileans eventually spread to every nation.
Do you ever feel insignificant? Take heart! “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called … God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty … that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26, 27, 31).
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. Mark 4:31-32