First if you had the attention span to stick with me this whole time, thank you. I really appreciate it. If you need a recap, after some introduction, we’ve looked at compaction, rocks/shallowness, and weeds. Now we finally get to look at the good soil. Good soil has been tilled, the rocks removed, and the weeds pulled. Good soil comes after you’ve gotten your hands dirty many times.
Vs. 8 “And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
In Kansas when you get outside of the city there is corn, grain, and soy bean farms as far as you can see. If you’re from Lexington, imagine a sprawling country side of crops instead of horse farms. Will and I used to drive past many such farms on our trips to and from the airport during our long distance dating days (praise the Lord those are behind us!). I remember Will would be watching out the window saying things like “do you know what that machine is?”, “Do you know that does…,” “Look how good the crops are doing,” and my personal favorite “Man! Look at that dirt!” or “That soil is so dark and good!”
When I asked Will what makes good soil, he revealed a truth that I tend to overlook. It’s not so much about the plants as it is the soil that they are planted in. In his words “It’s all about the soil – and if you don’t take care of it – it turns into a dust bowl.”
Check out this link for good explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl. I will try to summarize it for you. The settlers started tearing up the grass that could naturally survive in this moderately arid, drought prone region. They began farming the land, but the soil wasn’t right for crops. When the droughts came the crops that weren’t meant for the soil of that region died, and the soil blew half way across the country.
Focusing on the soil is more sustainable. Putting nutrients and water into your soil year after year continuously improves the quality of the soil and consequently the quality of your crop.
So how do we achieve good soil in our lives, in our hearts?
Vs. 20 “But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
The focus of the Parable of the Sower is not on the plant; the yield of the seed is merely the result. Just like Will’s advice on gardening – the focus is on the soil. That’s the variable Jesus is testing. We can be like the Pharisees and try to focus on the plant, on what the outside world seed, but that isn’t sustainable. What we really needs to be done is to get down on our knees and get our hands dirty:
- The good soil is the one that has had space cleared in it, so that there is room for the seeds God sows to nestle in. Tilling and digging aren’t always fun, sometimes it’s difficult and happens only a little at a time. The important thing is that it happens.
- The good soil has depth and has had the rocks removed. After we finally clear out space for God he will begin to reveal to us where the rocks are. What things are hindering Him from rooting down deep in our hearts. If we will do the dirty, sometimes hard, task of removing the rocks He reveals we will find the strength to stand up and stand strong.
- The good soil has been weeded, multiple times. It is hard not to let the things of the world creep in. Some of them seem so good and lovely. But “the deceitfulness of riches and the desires of the world” are impostors. Those impostors steal bits of life; they feed off of our energies. We may have red bull, coffee, and 5 hour energy, but what God needs is our hearts, not leftovers running on steam. So what are you chasing? The good soil has relentlessly had desires for things other than God pulled from it. Talk about dirty hands.
But it’s worth it. Did you catch the reward? Maybe numbers aren’t your thing either, so look how the Message paraphrases it:
Vs 20 “But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest BEYOND THEIR WILDEST DREAMS.”
I don’t know about you, but I am a proficient and prolific day dreamer… but if the hard, nasty work of digging up time and space for God, removing things that hinder, and ripping up the lies I believe in means that God will do something with my life that is BEYOND my WILDEST DREAMS, then by all means, sign me up! I want that.
It might be sweaty, grimy, unpleasant, dirty work… but God is good! And there is something at the end of it better than anything we can imagine. He is good, and He is faithful. He will let you have a little taste along the way, like when Will gave me the first strawberry of the year.
To offer another summation of this parable, my friend Andrea said this a couple of days ago:
“Oh He’s good at that! Just when you think you have him figured out, he drops the bottom out and you see just how much more there is to him! BTW, Parable of the Sower is my favorite parable too. I realized (through gardening, too!) that it’s also a commentary on ministry – Jesus is teaching the disciples how to care for people. The crowd would have heard this story and immediately thought, wow, what a lazy farmer! Who plants a field and doesn’t remove stones or plow first? I think Jesus was telling his disciples that these obstacles to faith are real and they must be dealt with if anyone is to grow. And what I love about him is that he’s teaching by doing – he’s pulling up rocks and weeds through his teaching so that the seed he’s planting has a fighting chance. Pretty much, he’s awesome.”