October 26, 2012
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Matthew 13:1-9.
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some feed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some see fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
It’s customary for us to think naturally of we as the receivers of the seed — hard packed path, shallow dirt, weed-choked ground, and fertile soil. But what strikes me today is that God is profligate, a wastrel! Can you imagine a farmer flinging seed here, there and everywhere without a care as to where it lands?
But God’s love is like that. It is broadcast in abundance. He doesn’t determine in advance who will receive it and who won’t; it’s up to each of us to decide for ourselves. He makes the rain fall upon the good and the wicked alike. He’s just there loving us indiscriminately and without measure. He’s just waiting for our response. And when we receive His love, His word, His Son, His desire for us to live according to His will, He makes us wildly fruitful. But isn’t it interesting that even those who are rich soil don’t produce the same bounty?
Jesus doesn’t tell us here exactly what produces those different yields. He only tells us a few verses later that it is those who hear the word and understand it that bear fruit. What makes the difference? If I think about the gardens my grandfather and I used to tend, there were a lot of variables. How well the soil was prepared, whether the seeds were planted at the right depth, how much sun and rain it got, how regularly and well it was weeded, how the growing plants were pruned or trained, whether the pests were combatted effectively, how quickly the ripened produce was harvested. What do all these variables have in common — except for the amount of sun? It was how he and I worked together, how much attention we gave the garden, and how diligently we dedicated ourselves to the tasks at hand. We sometimes had to put others things off until the garden had been tended that day. It was a priority because we were able to keep the end result in mind — the beautiful, flavorful produce that we could enjoy fresh and canned year-round. And the sense of accomplishment and pride in job well done.
That’s what I take from this today. I see my grandfather, hear his instructions, model his hard work, and bask in his nearness, his attention, and his tender love. That’s what God’s love is like for me. The more I listen to God and do as He wants, the more I will yield for His kingdom here on earth.