Recently I read the Parable of the Sower. You may remember the story. It is found in the 3 gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
A farmer is sowing seed. Some of the seed falls on the hard path and the birds come eat it before it can start to grow. Some of the seed falls on the rocky soil. The seed starts to grow, but then dries up and dies when it gets too hot because there isn’t enough soil to hold moisture. Another place that seed falls is fairly good ground, but there are also weeds and thorns and they use up all the water and nutrients and strangle the new plants… so the seed again dies. Thankfully… and finally… some of the seed lands on good ground and produces a bountiful harvest.
Jesus explains to the disciples that the seed is the Word of God; the birds are the evil one, and people’s hearts are where the Word is being sown… and not everyone receives the Word of God the same way.
So, how do we translate the “Garden metaphor” to our hearts? Let’s look at the hard path. It is probably hard because it has been trampled on … walked all over … by other people … situations … or whatever. That soul may be really hurt… or angry … or fearful… or cynical. It needs water, to soften, and probably a rototiller! Did you ever feel like you were being rototilled by life? Maybe it is to break up your dirt! The birds… the enemy … loves this soil… loves to keep it hardened … loves to steal the seed … before it can even start to grow.
How about the stony soil? What could those stones be? Maybe sin habits … maybe lies that have been believed … maybe an unwillingness to change… ? Water helps here, too. It will wash away little stones… and soften the dirt, but the big stones need to be dug up and thrown out. We need less stones and more good dirt so that when the “afternoon sun” of trials and just plain life bear down on us, we don’t shrivel up and die. This soil also needs compost… and maybe some manure. So…when life is giving you “manure”… let it fertilize your soil.
Then there is the good soil that is full of weeds and thorns. This soil needs some serious choices… what stays … what goes? What in our lives should be watered… what should be pulled up and thrown away … what should be allowed to wither and die. We say “No” to some things so we can say “Yes” to other things. This is true in every area of life … especially our spiritual life! Think about it. Are the weeds really so important that you want to keep them?
Finally, there is the good soil that produces an abundant crop. The soil is cultivated… workable … well fertilized and watered… and weeded.
So, why does the sower in the story throw seed where he knows it won’t thrive? I think it is because God doesn’t give up on any garden… on any heart. In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus tells the story of a man who had a fig tree that had not produced fruit for three years. Instead of cutting the tree down, he “rototilled” and “fertilized” it for another year, giving it extra attention and care, and another chance. Jesus is the Master Gardener. He knows where and when the seed will be sown in the garden. He knows when to water, when to plow, which plants are weeds, what kind of fertilizer to use… and how much.
So, does Jesus, the Master Gardener, have all the responsibility of whether the seed grows … or not? No. Remember, these are our hearts. Ours… not His. He gave them to us. He gave us free will. We have the right… and responsibility to choose. So, what do we do? Are we willing to be softened? Are we willing to receive the seed? Are we willing to let go of the weeds … and pull them out?… Are we willing to dig up the stones and toss them? Are we willing to be watered? Are we willing to give our hearts to Him… and trust Him? It is our choice.
Jesus, I realize that there are parts of my heart that correspond to each different type of soil. Parts of me are hard, stony, and overgrown with weeds.
But You are the Master Gardener. I ask you to break up the hard paths in my soul. I forgive those who have “walked all over me.” I repent for the times I have hardened myself… either out of hurt or anger… or ignorance. Please “soften” me with the water of Your Holy Spirit and Your Word. Show me the stones that I need to toss. Where I have weeds and thorns, show me what to pull out and throw into the fire. But, Lord, some of those roots go really deep. And some of them are wrapped so tightly around me that I can’t pull them by myself. Holy Spirit, please loosen and pull all the entangling roots out… the ones I can’t loosen on my own.
I ask that You water and fertilize me so that Your Word will take root in me and that I can produce fruit and flowers that bring You glory.