Today’s Bible Reading:
Genesis 39:1-41:16; Matthew 12:46-13:23; Psalm 17:1-15; Proverbs 3:33-35
I have heard this parable many, many times since I was a young girl. Sometimes I am tempted to not give much thought to it, it’s just so familiar, but this morning it just feels like I need to consider these words of Jesus once again. I love to garden. I know all about the importance of planting my seed in good soil. I know all about weeds and the problems they cause. Still, I never want to skim over anything that Jesus has to say.
One of the really cool things about this parable is that Jesus takes time to tell us exactly what it means. That is where I want to sit myself down at His feet this morning.
When the disciples asked Jesus why He taught in parables this was His answer, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. (Matthew 13:11-13)
These words are resonating with me this morning: to those who have been granted understanding...those who actually listen will gain even more understanding, and,an abundance of knowledge. These words are leading me to ponder once again this very familiar parable.
So, when Jesus states to the disciples, “Now listen to the explanation” I decided to stop and listen. We are living in some pretty interesting times so making sure I am cultivating good soil remains vitally important.
As I examine my garden that is now lying dormant in the winter, I have a footpath. I don’t plant seeds there. The soil is hard from being walked on over and over again, it is compacted and not nurtured to allow for growing things. In fact I will often put barriers on this path to keep things from growing. Any seed that spills here would probably be snatched up by the birds. It never has the opportunity to even sprout. This is not good soil for growing things.
Beside our garden is some really terrible ground. The topsoil had been stripped away leaving “rocky soil.” It really is not good for plants to thrive in. Occasionally something will start growing there, but it never survives for too long-there is no nourishment and we don’t even bother to water that part. We are working on building up that soil but for now it really is representative of the rocky soil in the parable. When the sun gets too hot, when the troubles of this world get to be too much, that little plant that sprouted and began to grow just withers and dies. It was just not fed very well and had nothing to sustain it. Dear friend, that is why we need to be fed and watered daily by the very Word of God.
Weeds. Ugh, I cannot stand them in my garden, but sometimes I am lazy and do not pull them when they are small. I allow them to grow and there have been times when they just take over. I look out at them and they just have gotten so out of hand that I give up. Weeds that are allowed to take over like that can be difficult to pull without also pulling out the very plant I am trying to grow. Best to get at them when they first pop up. I can get lazy in my spiritual life as well. Like a person who has eyes but does not see or ears but does not here. I see those weeds, and I just ignore them because I do not feel like doing the work it takes to remove them. Sigh. Pretty foolish when I put it like that.
And then there is that good soil. The soil where the seeds have everything they need and are well cared for. It is a nutrient rich soil that is watered regularly and has had the weeds pulled so they do not compete. That plant grows during the growing season and then produces a harvest. We have an apricot tree in our yard; some years it produces just a few apricots, some years it produces enough for me to make a batch of my favorite jam, and then, like last year, it produces so much I have to keep buying more jars to fill with all the jam. That is encouraging to me about my own life. Some years seem very fruitful and others not so much and maybe that is just part of the pattern of our lives. But whether my harvest is abundant or light I keep myself planted in that very good soil and seek to truly hear and understand. I dare not skim over even the most familiar parts.