Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lord, Make My Heart Good Soil!

As someone whose calling it is to preach and teach the word of God I have always taken great solace in this particular Gospel parable.
Being a pastor is not like other professions.
At the end of every day I don’t have a lot of physical results to show for my work.
I am not a plumber who can fix a broken sink in a couple of hours and then look at it with satisfaction that I have done my job.
My job is all about people, and helping them have a relationship with Jesus.
People are complex, and even on a day where I think I might have helped someone come grow closer to God you just never know.
I have had many times when I thought I had helped only to have someone’s life fall apart again.
For example, there is one particular person who comes and sees me every couple of months or so.
He has had a difficult life.
And there just doesn’t seem to be any improvement.
He came again this week, and we had the same discussion about God’s love for him and how that love can help him find some peace he is looking for, but he left and I just got the feeling that he didn’t hear what I said.
So I have always been glad to hear Jesus tell us that even though we spread the Word of God it just doesn’t always fall on good soil.

However, as I read the parable this week I had another thought.
What about me?
What kind of soil am I?
I would like to think I am the good soil, who hears the word and takes it to heart.
I would like to believe that I am a person who lives out their faith with passion and heart.
But I have to admit that it is not always the case.
I was thinking that the sowing of the word is not a one and done event.
Every week when we gather God once again sows the Word in our hearts.
Every week we come here to have that Word once again get planted into us.
And well….I leave here and sometimes I suppose I do live it out, I am passionate about God and my faith, but not always.
Sometimes the cares of the world do get the best of me.
Sometimes I do worry about money and if there will be enough this week.
Sometimes I do get anxious that others will make fun of me because I am a person of faith.
Sometimes I do not understand God’s message and let the devil snatch it away from me.
Sometimes I wonder if I am simply not producing enough fruit for the kingdom of God, and perhaps all I am really doing is feeding my ego.

I was thinking that probably all of us at some time or another have had problems that are similar to the one that Jesus is talking about this morning.
That at times we had wished the soil was better.
Perhaps if it had been better we could have missed out on something unpleasant, or we could have made less mistakes in our lives.

There is another reason why this parable is so unsettling.
Because soil is what it is.
There is not much soil can do to change itself.
If you happen to be soil on a rocky path, or without much depth, or with thorns all around it, then that is about it.

I was thinking about my Dad who every year had a garden.
And every year it would just be a failure, but not because he didn’t work hard at it.
He would come home from work every night and he would weed the garden, and he would water it.
One year he even chopped down a tree in our yard because it would give the garden more sun.
He tried everything within his power to make that garden grow.
And at the end of the day he just had bad soil, it was really rocky, and it was near pines trees, and it just wasn’t going to be good a garden.
Sometimes soil is just bad soil.

It is God, the creator of the world, who puts soil where soil is.
If we stretch the parable we see that we are who we are, and there is not much we can do about it.
That seems to me to be one of the points of this parable.
Nothing is up to us.
God sows and we simply accept what is fallen based on what type of soil we are.
But you can see the problem here.
Why does God allow bad soil at all?
If this is all up to God than why not make all the soil good?

I don’t know the answer to that one.
But if all that is true, if the soil is what it is, if God put it there, than we had better hope that God is who Jesus tells us God is.
God better be merciful.
God better be full of Grace and love.
God better be patient with us.
If not than we are all in trouble.
Because even if at times I find that I am good soil, there are plenty of other times when I am not.
And all I have is God to rely on.
All I have is God who I know through Jesus Christ.

And what Jesus tells us about God in this parable is that despite all the obstacles in the way, despite the fact that the sewer is not more careful in his planning of planting the seed.
Despite the fact the three out of the four types of soil are no good.
Despite the fact that it would seem impossible to for anything to grow Jesus tells us that the yield is great.
“This is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty,”
I was reading this week how a good harvest in first-century Galilee would have produced ten bushels for every bushel of seed.
The idea that one it would produce a thirty fold, much less hundredfold, was unheard of in Jesus time.
In other words God is going to provide a spectacular harvest.
And God is going to use you and me.
As meek and insufficient as our attempts are God will use it.

So we are back were we started.
This parable is a great comfort to us, because it says that this is not dependent on us.
It is dependent on God.
God provides.
And today what we pray and ask God for is simply that God will make our hearts good soil.
Not that we will make our hearts good soil.
Not that we will find some scheme for bettering the soil, but that God opens our hearts to the hearing of the word.

Because every time we gather we get to hear again, and again that sweet message of God’s mercy, grace, and love is sowed into our hearts.
And then we get to go out and share it with others, so that God might produce in us and them a mighty harvest for the kingdom!

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