The parable of the sower always gives me much to reflect on.
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:3-9)
So far, so good. A modern preacher would likely spend half an hour or more unpacking the meaning of this message. Jesus is more succinct and incisive.
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. (Matthew 13:18-19)
There are days when I wonder if I am seed sown along the path. I may wonder if I’ve misunderstood the message either because it seems too complicated, or because it seems too simple. Mostly I wonder because I seem unable to express my understanding in a way that others can understand too.
The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. (Matthew 13:20-21)
There are days when I wonder if I am seed fallen on rocky ground. Because the joy I felt when I first believed was unique, only for that moment. Everything is different now. The joy is different, and I generally tell myself it’s deeper and stronger, but there are days when I wonder how real it is, and there are days when it feels too difficult.
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
There are days when I wonder if I am seed fallen among the thorns. There are too many of these days. I allow life to get between me and the Word far too easily. Maybe not so much the worries but the distractions, pulling me away from my purpose.
But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23)
Thank God there are days when I believe I am seed fallen on good soil. Most often these are the days that I worship with my church and feel God’s love radiating from my fellow believers, and sense His presence heavy in the atmosphere. And the days when I study and enjoy fellowship in my small group. Wonderful times, spiritually nourishing, encouraging and faith-affirming. Yes, in a very real sense the body of Christ is the soil in which I’m planted, and yes it is very good soil.
And just recently I’ve seen evidence of my growth. I’m not able to claim that my crop is yielding a hundred times what is sown, indeed thirty times is a figure I can still only dream of, but after several years of feeling like I’m doing nothing but absorbing the nutrients from the soil, I finally see a fruit is starting to show. Several times recently I’ve been able to speak God’s words into people’s lives. Yes, it’s all God’s work, His Spirit prompting me, where previously I would struggle to think of the right thing to say, and then say nothing because I had no confidence in my own ability to comfort or strengthen others. I’m starting to hear God, and recognise His voice. I’m taking tiny steps, but I feel blessed, and even better I’m finding that I can actually be a blessing to others. Long may I continue to grow. Thank you Jesus for Your patience with me through all the days gone past, and those to come.