“So listen to the parable of the sower…” (CSB – Read the chapter)
The parable of the sower is a story about a farmer planting seed that’s really a story about how people receive the word of the Gospel. Four seed destinations equals four different types of responses. Last time we talked about what they are, but what do they actually mean? Let’s take a look.
We can do that through a couple of different lenses. The first is more evangelistically-focused. When we share the Gospel, these are the four basic ways a person might respond to us. The idea here is that only about a quarter of the time is someone going to hear the word and have it grow to really bear fruit in his life. But, assigning percentages like that is impossible for us to do. All the same, it’s good to be aware that not all of our efforts to share the Gospel are going to amount to anything. We’ll meet with varying levels of response for reasons that are beyond our control.
What I think is the more personal question is this: Which kind of soil are you? Are you bearing crazy amounts of fruit because the word has dwelt so richly in your heart? Some people really do. This is certainly the goal. This is what we want to have happen in us.
Or, has the word taken root in your heart yet? It may be that you haven’t even responded to it yet. If that’s the case, I’m really honored that you have taken the time to read this.
More likely, though, you’ve got a heart that’s somewhere in the middle. This is where most of us seem to live, isn’t it? Your devotion seems to come in strong waves that dissipate quickly. You get all excited about the show, but the substance just doesn’t hold your attention. At the first sign of trouble or challenge, you fall to something other than your faith.
Yet still, you may be the thorny ground. You really want for the word to grow and bear fruit in you, but you just have so much else going on in your life. Perhaps it’s work. Your work schedule is such that engaging well with a community of faith is really hard. It could be kids’ activities. You’re constantly on the run from one sporting event or music event or some other kind of event to another and they all seem to fall on the weekends. Or maybe you have life baggage in your way. You have hard experiences and emotions from the past that choke your faith every time it starts to blossom a bit.
What do we do with this? How do we steer our lives from rocky or thorny ground to the rich, fertile soil that bears much fruit? The same way you turn a field from rocky or thorny to fertile: you remove the rocks and pull the thorns. One by one, we identify what some of our rocks are and we dig them out with the Spirit’s help. Depending on how big the rocks are, this could be some seriously hard work. If we are stuck in a pattern that has been in place for a long time, changing it is going to be painful. We may have to chip away at it slowly for a while before it’s small enough to remove entirely.
We begin clipping the thorns off at the ground and then keeping them pulled. If we have to, we dig down a little deeper to see where the roots are and cut them off there. This may not be something we do alone either. If needed, we get help from a counselor. Whatever it takes, we begin taking the things out of the soil that prevent growth from taking root in our lives.
Then, we replace that bad stuff with good stuff. We trade bad habits for good ones. We set in place new traditions and routines. We bring in fresh soil by engaging with the lives of folks who are bearing fruit. And we keep at it. The process won’t be easy or quick. It’ll take a lot of hard work. But we have the Holy Spirit who will help us every step of the way if we will receive it. And in the end, we enjoy and celebrate the fruit that comes to bear.
This is the way to find life that is worth living. Let’s take it one day at a time.