While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, lets him hear." His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to other I speak in parables, so that, "though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand." This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. Then seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with noble and good heart who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Those that fall along the path are 'hard hearted'. They refuse to open their hearts to the word of God.
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
Those that fall along the rocky soil are 'impulsive'. They leave as quickly as they came.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Those that fall along the thorns are 'comfortable'. They know the Lord, but are comfortable just sitting in church every Sunday, maybe even volunteering and doing good, but not really doing anything to bring other's closer to Him.
The Lord says: These people come near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.
Those that fall along the good soil have 'growth'. They hear and retain the Word.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
I thought about this sermon a lot yesterday and how it pertains to my life. I find myself questioning the 'whys' of the situation a lot. Why does it seem like 'bad' things keep happening to me...to my family? I mean, how much grief and suffering can one family endure, before He stops trusting that they can handle more? Why is it that mothers lose their newborn babies, and others have children who are born with or develop diseases (whether it be cancer, leukemia, heart defects, Down Syndrome, etc)? But it occurs to me that these 'miracle' children have touched more lives in their sometimes short lives, than most of us ever will in our entire lives. That, in itself, is a MIRACLE. I think they are angels in disguise. I think it's how we respond to our 'trials' while on this earth that truly defines us. It's so easy to praise Him in good times, but it should be just as easy to praise Him in our times of distress.
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4: 15
In my life, I don't often run around quoting scripture and Bible versus. I think those close to me know where I stand in my faith, but I think sometimes it takes personal tragedy to open your own eyes to just where you stand. I think every Christian would like to think they are the 'good soil', but where does your faith really stand when you are put to the test? Do you still turn to Him, lean on Him, and depend on Him to get you through? Or do you harden yourself because you aren't getting the 'results' you think He should give you when you go to him in prayer? Do you feel like it's you against the world- the hardships of life?
I know, sometimes, I do. Feel like it's me against the world.
I like to think that, I could wish that, when I looked around the only thing I would have to complain about is my child getting a cold, or having an older car or small house and wanting a newer or bigger one, or trying to balance work and family life. It makes me want to scream when I hear people endlessly complaining about these things. Open your eyes, and be thankful for all your blessings. A healthy child, a vehicle that runs, a roof over your head while so many people are sleeping on the streets, a job when so many are facing unemployment, and a family when so many people try, without success, for years just to have a child. I open my eyes and I realize that I'm blessed that He didn't give me a life like that. He's given the ability to appreciate and be thankful for my life through the 'big' trials.
I know His grace gives me a sense of stillness. I whole-heartedly know He is here with me, holding my hand along this journey. And I feel unworthy of all the blessings He has given me in my life.
Kate Convissor said it so perfectly in this devotional. "You know I'm not very intuitive," my friend Dee said, breaking the silent prayer of the women's Bible study. "I don't see visions or anything, but just now I saw the Lord standing guard over you. Behind him were shadowy figures of things like anger and depression. His arms were outspread, holding them back and protecting you so nothing could harm you."
It was the week after Richard's funeral and I was on shaky, newborn legs. I was really too raw and unsteady to be out but had always enjoyed the common sense and strength of these women. I knew Dee's words were true. I felt that protection.
I had done what was necessary: contacted a lawyer, begun hundreds of thank-you notes, applied for Social Security. Now there was just pain and all of life ahead. Pain, fierce and cleansing in its intensity, still without anger, guilt, or depression - all that would come later.
The grace I felt didn't blunt the pain, didn't even keep the difficulties at bay. The cars still ran out of oil, fuses still blew, the grass needed mowing and our machine was too cantankerous for the job. These daily irritations were drips in an overflowing cup.
Grace was a sense of presence, of stillness, that was always there just below the surface. Perhaps grace had always been there, but my life had been too hurried, my mind too cluttered, to notice it. Perhaps a feeling of unworthiness had blocked the presence of God. All that fell away now. God was my Father, giving me each day the ticket for the journey, and I clung to that grace like a child.