06 August 2009

Amongst Thorns

Luke 8: 5-8 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.”

In the Spring, at the urging of my daughter and perhaps out of a desire to connect with my agricultural roots, I planted a few tomato and pepper plants. Apart from a cursory hoeing, I made no effort to prepare the soil. I simply dug a hole and dropped them in. I had good intentions of tending to the plants, anticipating their bounty, but I ignored them. You can see what happened; they grew up among the weeds. The largest tomato plant has a single fruit, which is barely appreciable amidst the overgrowth. I am no longer able to discern the pepper plants.

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan exhorts "My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil. I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments pile on top of it" (p. 66).

Thorny soil is not irreparable. When the thorns are removed, it becomes good soil once again, a place for seed to flourish. The soil cannot rid itself of weeds, however. It is only the Gardener who can root out the thorns, improving the soil for the seed to grow. We need to pray that God would reveal the weeds in our lives and then ask Him to remove them far from us, so that the Word of God may flourish. Further, we need to be attentive (I Peter 5:8), persevering in our prayers, as weeds have a way of quickly re-populating untended soil.

There is still hope for my tomatoes. If I attend to them, removing the weeds, improving the soil, and nurturing what is left, they have a chance to grow and bear much fruit. If I continue to neglect them, however, they will fade away and will be worthless. The same is true of my life.

Matthew 3:10-"Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

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