Sometimes growing up as a Christian and hearing the Jesus story all of our lives can get in the way of seeing some of the deep things that are hidden in the Bible stories, especially the stories Jesus told. First of all, we may have a false sense of security that we “know Jesus” and would surely recognize Him if He were to show up in our time. (Remember, there were so many who didn’t when He walked the earth.) We may also miss encounters with Him almost daily, in what Michael Card calls “His distressing disguise.”
Then, on top of this, we have heard the stories and their interpretations in sermons for years and may miss some deeper, more personal meanings. This week I was reading the parable of the sower and the seeds in Mark 4. Growing up in a Christian home–a minister’s home, no less–I did what comes so easily to us. I took the story to mean the seeds that fell on good ground were those representing people who had heard doctrine and joined churches. It is comforting and feels good to our egos to believe that we are in and others are out–that those outside of the church doors are the ground that doesn’t produce fruit, the rocky, weedy, hard ground. But we know what the fruit of the Spirit is, and it isn’t church membership. What if that “Word of God,” which is the seed, is God speaking to us daily, and all those different types of soil are parts of our everyday lives?
- Every day some of God’s Word falls on a place where we might hear it and notice it and say to ourselves, “I need to do that,” fully intending to, but then we get busy, forget our intentions, and it is crowded out. (The word sown among the thorns.)
- Every day God speaks to us. Sometimes, when traveling down the path of life, we are going so fast that His words are falling on our lives, but we just keep running and end up walking on them. (The seeds Satan comes and immediately takes away.)
- Then there are the words that fall on stony ground. Those are the words that tell us to forgive, to let something go, to surrender, or to refuse to be offended by others, but our hard-as-a-rock ego takes over and the seed–the Word of God–falls on the stony ground. (The seed that fails to take root, dries up, and dies.)
- And finally, there is the good soil. This is the soil that has been plowed, cultivated, and weeded, usually by hard times, sorrow, and loss, and when God’s word falls there it grows.
Each one of us has all of the soil types within our own lives. See how much easier it is to make things about others and not personalize it? But see how much we miss by looking at others instead of allowing God’s word to work on our hearts?
Photo credit: Julie Escobar