“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!
The Hereford Zone is a fertile place. Looking out from my bedroom window just a few weeks ago, I could see through the bare trees to York Road. I could see all the branches that the wind knocked out of the trees over the winter, and all the shrubs that needed trimming. But we’ve been getting some good rain lately, and looking out this morning, all I saw was green. As I’ve often said about our yard, ‘just add water and watch it grow!’ This is so true that I’ve nicknamed myself ‘the accidental gardener’ because more often than not, any flowers, vegetables, or fruits that spring up around the yard are planted by chance not by me.
I imagine that our spiritual ‘soul garden’ is planted in much the same way. Family, teachers, friends or evangelists planted those first seeds in our hearts. Now, we intentionally plant the Word there, and nourish it with Bible Study, prayer and worship. But plenty of other ‘weeds’ and ‘thorns’ and the cares of this world get in there too, trying to choke out what we so carefully planted. So, we have to tend to our ‘soul garden’ regularly, weeding and fertilizing, even more than our actual flower beds and vegetable patches.
And when it comes to spreading seeds of the Gospel around our circle of friends and family, our neighborhoods and communities, Jesus tells us it’s the same way: scatter that seed far and wide. Some will land on fertile soil and yield an abundant harvest. Some won’t. Some hardened furrows might need repeated scattering for the roots to take hold. But that isn’t up to us. We spread the seed and trust that the Holy Spirit will do the tending necessary for seeds to take root and grow.
In my relatively short time as a Christian, I’ve seen some sprouts of faith that I thought were well-planted wither and die under the intense heat of hard life circumstances. I’ve nurtured little seedlings of faith in kids only to see them get choked out by sports and other activities. And I’ve been surprised to find that seed I scattered almost as an afterthought took root in a willing heart and grew strong.
The point is, we never know. It isn’t up to us. And thank God for that because I do not have a green thumb! But I am just as amazed and delighted to see the growing faith in myself and those around me as I am to find pears ripening on a tree I didn’t tend, a sunflower blooming where I didn’t plant one, or a pumpkin patch where I tossed an old Jack-o-Lantern last autumn.
PRAYER: Lord, fill our seed pouches with the Good News of Jesus, Christ and give us the boldness and courage to scatter that seed far and wide and often. Help us to nurture the seedlings of faith we find in others with Sonshine and the Water of Life. And remind us often to tend our own ‘soul gardens’ so that we can bear much fruit for You.