“Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (Luke 8:8 NLT)
Do you know anyone who loves dirt? I don’t mean getting dirty; I mean they love to think about the condition of soil; the nutrients, chemical balances, moisture, etc. Go ahead and think of a few adjectives to describe them.
What words came to mind? Boring? Nerdy? Weird?
Most of us just aren’t that “into” dirt. Ironically, neither were American farmers of the 1920s and 1930s. Those folks were into profit and efficiency.
They planted crops that would pay well. They used plowing methods that eroded the topsoil and left it exposed. Between their crop selections and the practices of burning stubble to control weeds, they removed both the richness and the stability of the soil.
What was their reward? The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Ironically, their focus on results led to a decline in results. They should have been focusing on what produces those results. They should have focused on the dirt and been more boring… nerdy… and weird.
The last segment of this parable shows some tremendous results. Crops that produce one hundred fold? We can also be tempted to focus on the results instead of the soil. And in the process, we may be setting ourselves up for our own personal “great depression.”
Here’s the thing: we can’t control the results; we can only create the conditions. God controls the results.
So, how do we create the “good soil” in our hearts? Jesus gives us 3 things to concentrate on:
1. Hear God’s Word. This isn’t about merely tuning into a podcast, or sitting passively in church while the preacher talks. I think the intent in this kind of hearing is to apply it to our lives. I find that I listen more intently if I plan to apply what I hear.
2. Cling to it [God’s Word]. When we cling to things, we “stick.” We can’t expect a part-time relationship with God’s Word to have a full-time impact. This means I can’t just reach for God’s Word when I need it and then put it down again when I’m feeling better. I can’t just listen for God’s Word on Sunday morning but not the rest of the week. God’s Word has to “stick” if it’s going to take hold.
3. Patiently. This is tough in today’s fast food world. We aren’t very good at patience. To me, this is the beauty of the farming aspect of this parable: crops don’t produce harvest without patience, and deep roots take time! And… have you ever watched roots grow? Me either! In fact, regularly checking on the roots is one of the surest ways to destroy a plant. We have to let the work happen underground, and we have to trust that growth is happening. In other words, we have to be patient!
How do you create and maintain “good soil” in your hearts? What advice would you give to a “farmer” who’s just starting out?