Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Parable of the Four Soils

I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew. I want to hear Jesus' words again. I imagine myself sitting in the crowd, leaning forward to catch every word. He taught so simply, and yet the depth of those teaches reaches far beyond my sometimes limited understanding.

I am comforted as He draws His disciples aside and transforms the parables He has told, into eternal truths. He understands that we need His help to fully know.

The Parable of the Four Soils is one that has always caused me to think deeper. I confess that I still don't have it perfectly figured out - not every nuance of truth. As I read through it this time, though, I suddenly saw it applied to my own heart in a way I had never seen before.

The farmer comes and scatters the good seeds. The first seeds fell on a footpath and were immediately eaten by the birds.

I am thankful that, by His grace, that isn't the soil of my heart. As a little girl, the soil was ready to receive the word with simple faith - no questions asked.

Other seeds fell on rocky soil. They immediately began to grow, but because the rocks kept them from sending down deep roots, the plants soon wilted and died.

I realized, with a sudden sinking of the heart, that there have been times in my life when the soil of my heart has become strewn with rocks. Difficult circumstances have come like so many rocks, and I have allowed them to keep my faith from sending down deep roots. I have drawn away from the very source that would cause faith to grow.

I am thankful that He lovingly and patiently removes the rocks (every single time) and enriches the soil with His grace. The roots begin to reach down into that nourishing source of life, and the plant is renewed.

The third group of seeds fell among thorns. As the plants grew, they were choked out by the overpowering weeds.

The soil of my heart has, all too often, been overgrown with weeds. The worries and cares of life spring up to crowd out faith. The times when I have allowed other things to take the place of time spent with the Lord have robbed me of the joy and peace that come from growing closer to Him.

The last seed fell on good soil - the soil of an understanding heart that produces a bountiful harvest for the Kingdom of God. This is the soil I want to fill my heart. This is the way I want to consistently live.

Just as I have to tend the soil in my garden if I want to have strong, healthy plants, so I must tend the soil of my heart. It is an on-going process. Just when I think all the rocks have been removed, others make their way to the surface. The weeds threaten to overwhelm the plants if I don't keep a constant watch and remove them as they appear.

I am not left on my own to do this tending of the soil. I have a gentle Gardener who willingly comes alongside and bends to do the work with us. I have only to open the garden gate of my heart and let Him in.