I used to think that I knew about agriculture, but now my eyes are being opened to just how shallow that knowledge was and consequently, how shallow my knowledge of God is.
One of my friends has been reading this series of posts I am in the middle of, and asked me to talk about them at Bible study last night. Now if you have been to our house, know Will very well, or follow this blog you are probably familiar with Will’s affinity for agriculture and giftedness at gardening.
He truly has a green thumb, and what’s better is he really enjoys it. He is in an ag based major and is passionate about bettering people’s food systems, growing food, and sharing food. Consequently, agriculture plays a large role in our conversation, values, dreams for the future, and even our sources of entertainment.
I thought I knew about and understood farming, gardening, and the like because I grew up in Kansas and couldn’t go 10 miles without driving past some corn, grain, or cows. But boy was I wrong. I have gleaned so much information and grown a passion for agriculture that I never would have dreamed would happen before I met Will. He told me the first time I visited his family’s farm “I’m going to make a farm girl out of you yet.” And you know what, he was right.
All this to say that I used to think I understood these agrarian parables in the Bible, but after spending a couple of years listening to and watching Will, I can dig so much deeper into these metaphors than I could before.
Which brings me to today’s soil: the rocky ground. Rocky ground makes it hard to dig deep.
Vs. 5-6 “Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.”
Vs. 16-17 “And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”
The problem with the rocky soil is that there isn’t enough soil for the plants to really put down roots. The rocks take up space and block the roots from penetrating deep into the soil. Much like an iceberg, the part of a plant you can’t see beneath the surface is just as important, if not more important than all the foliage and fruit you see growing above ground. A plant may look great above ground, but if the roots below the surface aren’t deep and able to find nutrients I promise you that plant will suffer when the when the wind comes, when the burning sun comes out, and when the dry season comes.
An example of this is the plants in the pot on my front porch versus our garden. The potted plants don’t have the soil to have nearly the root system that the garden does. So last week when it was really hot, they stopped flowering and shriveled up. They couldn’t take it. On the other hand, while our well established garden looked a little distressed, it kept producing… we still have more peppers than we know what to do with.
That is what Jesus is getting at here. He says that these seedlings “had no depth of soil” and “have no root in themselves.” Unlike the seeds on the path (see Sunday’s post) these seeds actually had a chance to sink in. This Word from God had a chance to plant itself in someone’s heart. But the rocky soil of that heart provided it with little area to get rooted in and search for nutrients.
Look how the message paraphrases this:
“And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.”
How often is this the case. Think of conferences, camps, mission trips, that really great conversation you had with your friend last week, or maybe even this Sunday’s sermon. I know in my life there have been many times in my life when God speaks to me, I feel convicted, encouraged, or filled with passion. I eagerly accept that seed from God and let it take root in me…. the question is for how deep do I let it sink in and change me.
Then the heat of the sun comes. The heat of the sun can look like a lot of things pressure from others, emotional or financial distress, illness, depression… the list goes on and on. If what’s in your heart is shallow, if your character is built on shifty, temporary circumstances then the roots of change don’t have room to hunker down and prepare to ride the roller coaster of life.
Not going to lie, sometimes all it takes for me is my stomach to rumble after church… all of the sudden I am focused on food, and all thoughts of the Word of God that was just sown in my life are lost.
In Sunday’s post the point was that we are so busy we never even absorb God’s Word, but there are times when we do. Sometimes when we are eager to accept the Word of God, we are on a high because of great sermon, book, conversation…. But when the rubber meets the road our passion and conviction have no real backbone to stand up to life. So that dream dies. Just like the potted flowers on my front porch.