Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Let's Get Dirty

This past Sunday’s sermon was on the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. I’ve heard this passage and sermons on it – well dozens of times, if I prevent myself from exaggerating for it indeed seems hundreds or thousands of times. It’s a go-to sermon, usually about the Gospel being scattered like a farmer’s seed on different kinds of soils and showing us what kind of soil takes that seed and produces a crop.
I always thought that meant – the receiving soil became Christians and the others remained lost. And since I’m a Christian, I must have had good soil. Whew – I can move on to another part of the Bible.
May I take a moment to laugh out loud, please?
Okay. I’ve recovered myself. The reason I’m laughing is that recently God’s been revealing to me areas where I have been so arrogant in my faith. This past Sunday was one of those times.
The sermon was not directed at those in need of salvation, but the already ‘saved’ in need of sanctification. The ‘seed’ was not merely the Gospel message, but all of God’s Word. And the soils – this is the part that really opened my eyes – each kind of soil, no less, are descriptions my spirit can resemble on any given day.
In other words, just because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior does not mean that I will automatically act like good soil and produce a crop. The process of Sanctification does that – that long, tedious, difficult, faith-based process accomplished by the gardener of my soul, the Holy Spirit. And each day, I decide which kind of soil I’m going to be in order to receive the seed – God’s Word that the Holy Spirit wants to plant and tend.
Some days, I just might be the hard path from which birds snatch away the Word-seed I’m supposed to receive – but perhaps am too busy, too ambitious, too self-centered and stubborn and set in my ways to accept.
Other days, I’m the rocky soil, enthusiastic about the Word-seed I read that morning or heard in church, only to have my faith in said seed dashed by a hardship or trial I face the very next day.
Still, other times I’m thorny soil. I allow the worries and distractions of this world to choke out the Word-seed I’ve been given, missing a Truth the Holy Spirit wants me to receive because my focus is misplaced.
I seriously never considered that I could be any of those unfruitful soils.
Really, the only way to be the ‘good soil’ ready to receive the Word-seed into a nurturing environment that fosters growth, fruition and harvest is to YIELD to the farmer, surrender to the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying work. This requires allowing the farmer to do the necessary things for growth – tilling hard ground, applying fertilizer, waiting and watching the struggle of new growth pushing to the surface, enduring shifts in the weather and absorbing rainy seasons – all of which takes time. Much more time than we realize or our contemporaries are willing to tolerate. 
One thing the pastor said that really hit a mark was this – the soil doesn’t tell the farmer what or how to plant. Kind of like that verse in Isaiah that says the clay does not tell the potter how to form it – it is the Master’s business to decide and the clay’s job to surrender to his hand. Same concept here.
In this day and age, words like ‘surrender’ and ‘yield’ are social sacrilege, scary and scorned. Yet, via their essence, a crop is produced and harvested. Why wouldn’t we want to be that kind of soil?
Hope your week rocks, Dry Ground friends!
Oh, speaking of farmers, my favorite overall commercial from Sunday night, which I don't believe I'm alone in this, was the Ram truck one narrated by the late, great Paul Harvey. If somehow you haven't seen it yet or if you just want to see it again, CLICK HERE. It took on an even deeper meaning for me once I watched it again with the above principles in mind - God my Father and His farming Spirit. LOVE.