My best friend recently shared an important insight having to do with the parable of the sower and his own self-admitted “garden envy.”
We all know the Biblical story of the farmer who scattered his seed widely (Matthew 13:3-8). The seeds that fell by the wayside were eaten by the birds. Those that fell in stony places grew quickly but were scorched when the sun was up because they had no roots. Others fell among the thorns and were choked out. But others fell onto good soil and were fruitful–as much as 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown.
The question becomes, “What makes good soil?” My friend first became interested in growing a vegetable garden last year. He picked a location, cleared the ground cover, and began his first planting. He had the usual problems with insects, disease, too little rain, too much rain, not the proper amount of sunlight, etc. At the same time, my wife was going through her annual garden planting. When my friend compared the results of his garden with our results, he had his first attack of “garden envy.” But rather than give up, he began to research the whole process–step by step to how it compared to what my wife did with our garden. Basically, everything was the same–except the soil. My wife has been planting that garden of hers every year for over 30 years. And every year, we add compost to it. What used to be a rocky, gravel-filled area is now deep, dark, earthworm-filled loam–perfect for growing vegetables.
When Jesus spoke that parable, He wasn’t just saying, “Look for good soil.” He wants us to make good soil. Loosen that hard-packed soil by the wayside, remove the rocks from the area you want to plant, pull the weeds and burn them, fertilize, and then plant. And even then, you’re not done. You still must water, and weed and, finally, harvest. That’s how it works in our own spiritual lives as well. In spreading the Word, we need to loosen the hard-heartedness of the people we want to reach. We need to pray past the barriers that all of us put up to keep from accepting the truth. We need to constantly be on the lookout for the weeds and cares of this world that can choke out our interest in the things of God. For fertilizer, we need to speak and think on the good things of life. Then, while the plant is growing, water from the wellspring of the Holy Spirit.
Then you will reap 100, 60, or 30 times what you have sown into your garden of souls.