Our Father wants good fruit. Deep down, we all have a longing to produce good fruit. Where does good fruit come from? Good trees. Jesus has already taught that bad trees cannot produce good fruit. It does not work to hang good fruit on bad trees. Good fruit does not produce good trees. Good trees produce good fruit.
Where do good trees come from? Good soil. I come from a place where growing things is easy. The land of central Illinois is filled with good, rich, black topsoil that has been cultivated over the generations. It is said that there is enough food grown in the midwest US to feed the world. That rich, black soil definitely yields a crop a hundred times over.
Now, my house is surrounded by yellow sand. My garden is in shambles. What I truly need to do is turn the sand into soil. This is done by hacking the sand to bits, by introducing worms and former living things into the sand, and by mixing good soil and/or its nutrients into the sand. The more life I am able to grow in the new soil, the more chance it has in surviving the sometimes harsh conditions.
But, it takes constant work. I need to ensure my garden receives constant water. I need to pull out any weeds that may take vital nutrients away from the things that I want to grow. I need to ensure that the soil is deep enough and that my plants have plenty of room to grow.
Traditionally, we call this the parable of the sower. But, the Spirit is leading me to call this the parable of the soil. Yes, we are to be like the sower. We are to scatter the message of the kingdom as wastefully as the sower in this story. Yes, we can expect that only a small percentage of people will receive the message well and bear fruit in their lives.
But, I also think that in its context, Jesus is also warning us about how we allow our Father to soften our hearts so that we may receive the kingdom well. We need to listen to the Spirit on how to remove the worries of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth from our hearts so that we may receive the kingdom well. We need to listen to the Spirit in order to explain the kingdom as clearly as possible so that it is not snatched away from people who desperately need it. We need to listen to the Spirit in how to anchor the kingdom deep within our hearts in order to hold on to it through the tough times which are sure to come.
Thank you Father for being the giver of life. For being the ultimate gardener and using whatever you can in hacking away at the sand in my life and turning my heart into the rich soil that will receive the kingdom well and produce fruit. Help me to receive your loving care that is the only way to true strength and maturity.