Lord, turn me over and inside out…please!
Thoughts to encourage us to run to Jesus
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Matthew 13:18-23 (NLT2)
Today the Christian emphasis falls heavily on the “active” life.… The favorite brand of Christianity is that sparked by the man in a hurry, hard hitting, aggressive and ready with the neat quip. We are neglecting the top side of our souls. The light in the tower burns dimly while we hurry about the grounds below, making a great racket and giving the impression of wonderful devotion to our task.
But why does God let man be thus assailed by sin? Answer: So that man may learn to know himself and God; to know himself is to learn that all he is capable of is sinning and doing evil; to know God is to learn that God’s grace is stronger than all creatures. Thus he learns to despise himself and to laud and praise God’s mercy.
I am not a farmer, and I am not good with plants.
But as I read the Parable of the Sower/Soil, I wonder why something wasn’t done about the soil before tossing the seed out onto the ground in such a random manner. Even I know you must break up the ground and turn it over. That is one of the primary uses of a farm tractor or a team of oxen pulling a huge plow back in the day.
Christ’s intended parallel to our lives is accurate today and when those words were spoken. Satan still tromps all over us, hardening the soil or lives. There are still rocks in our soil that need to be broken up or removed, the rocks that prevent God’s word from taking deep roots that sustain life. There are still thorns that cause so much anxiety that the message of God gets choked out. So pressures from outside us (the thorns), deep inside us (the rocks), and our hardness at the surface work against us hearing and God’s word impacting us.
Tozer echoes this with words from 60 years ago. (he died in 1963) talking about a shallow but active Christian life. It is too easy to remember a few catchphrases… and not see how they impact you personally. Christ must dig deep within us to reach what we are trying to protect and get that we don’t even know how to talk about.
We need to learn to be silent, let the truth of the gospel sink in, and take root. We need to let it calm us down to help us learn to live in peace. But that means we need to let God penetrate our lives. Which is what Luther was getting at. We need to realize that only God can transform us – that only He has the wisdom and the power to reach deep within us. This action means that He allows us to sin and fail so that He can restore us as we learn to depend on Him. So we have to slow down – and let the law convict and the gospel restore and give us the hope we need. He has to let us see the seed bouncing off the path, or getting choked out… or running up against a boulder… then He can show us how the cross removes the obstacles… while we sit in awe…meditating on His peace, His mercy, His love.
So we are back to the Sower, who breaks up the path at the cross and in the resurrection, removes the stones and the weeds and thistles. Let’s sit in His presence a while… and let His love and mercy do what the Father sent Jesus us to do…
Tozer, A. W. 2015. Tozer for the Christian Leader. Chicago: Moody Publishers.
Luther, Martin. 1999. Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I. Edited by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 42. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.