And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” – Matthew 13:3-9
I love to see my vegetable garden growing. Right now the plants are beginning to get stronger and taller as we get into the hotter days. It is always amazing to think about how the dirt was before I started the process of putting in the garden and where it is now. It always makes me think of this passage from Matthew.
The dirt in my garden boxes gets hard and compacted down by the weight of the winter snow and early spring rains. The soil must be broken-up and worked to loosen it up in order to allow the seeds to be able to push through and grow. If I just planted seeds on top of the hard soil, it would be like the path in the parable above. The seeds would just sit on top and not germinate properly and the birds would just come along and eat all of my seeds. There are times in my life that I have been like this soil, hard and compacted in spirit. The “birds” of this world come along and steel the seed and my joy. It takes God breaking my spirit and preparing me for the seed He wants to plant.
The content of the soil in my garden is very important. I do not use just any old dirt in my garden boxes. I use a combination of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. What is vermiculite? It is actually one of the softest stones on Earth. It is a silicate that allows the water to easily flow through my soil. Too much vermiculite and my boxes won’t hold the water, too little vermiculite and my plants will drown. Our lives are like this. We all have rocky places in our lives. Too many, and the soil is not deep enough for the seed that God plants in us to take root and it will wither in the heat of of our lives. If we don’t have a little of rocky soil in our lives we will never learn to depend on God and we will do everything by our own power and ability. We need just the right level of rocks and soil depth so that the Gospel that God plants in us can take root and grow us toward harvest time.
The great thing about my garden boxes is that I do not have to get down on the ground to weed my garden. I can just walk around them and reach in and pull out anything that doesn’t belong. It amazes me that even though the garden boxes are four foot high and the soil is specially mixed that I still get grass and weeds that try to take over. In just a few days weeds that were no where to be seen are sprouting up and trying to take over. The “weeds” or thorns in our lives are just as sneaky and progressive. If we are not careful, things that seem innocent and innocuous will turn out to be the catalyst for our downfall. We need to guard our hearts:
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. -Proverbs 4:23-27
I have the best soil I can provide to help my plants grow, and part of that good soil is compost. What is compost? Cow patties mixed with other material. Yes, decayed cow manure. This nutrient rich material helps my plants to grow, but too much and it will destroy my garden. It will actually make my soil too acidic to grow anything. Our lives are that way sometimes. We all have our share of stinky “cow poop” in our lives. At a certain level, it helps us grow and become more like Christ. God works it into our lives and we grow. Think of Job. He had an abundance of compost dumped on him. He came out of that situation better than when he entered, and hopefully his friends and wife were changed for the better. We need a good mix of prayer, scripture, and worship, mixed in with the “compost”of this life on earth in order for the seed that God plants in us to grow.
There is one more element that must be added to help in making my plants grow. That element is water. Without water my plants would wither and die. It takes regular watering to make sure that my garden remains healthy and the harvest will be plentiful. I collect rain water and use it on my garden because I believe it is better for my garden than water out of the faucet. I have gotten to the point now that I can tell when my plants are thirsty for a drink of water. I can see the signs in the plants that they need water. Amazingly I can also sense those times in my life when I need to drink from the “living water.”
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:37-38
The world offers us a faucet full of “water” that always seems to be turned all the way on. It seems a whole lot easier to just open the world’s faucet and drink from what pours out. To collect the rain water that God provides takes a lot of extra work and extra time. The water from the world’s faucet will never fully satisfy no matter how much we drink, but a small amount of living water that comes from God will always satisfy.
Father, we praise you for you are the farmer who plants the seed in us and gives us the ability to help it grow. Break us when our soil gets too compacted and hard. Help us to go deep into your word so that our soil is deep enough to grow. Give us just enough rocky places go allow us to grow and not depend only on ourselves. Help us to weed out the thorns of this world that long to choke us and keep us from you. Make us good soil and water us with living water that fully satisfies. May you be blessed and praised. – Amen