Longing for Good Soil

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I wish some grass would grow in my backyard.  I dream of lush, green, golf course grass… but all I’ve got is Florida sand.  Sand, sand, sand.  This is what my yard looks like.  I was thinking it would be cool to do time-lapse photography to show how the grass filled in.  At this rate I’m gonna be dead before I can time-lapse grass growing.  There’s only sand.  And weeds.  The weeds are growing like crazy.  What’s up with that?!

So today I’m waiting on a contractor to give me a quote for sod.  I already know he’s going to want a million dollars to make my yard green.   But I don’t think I can have a sand-trap backyard forever.

What does it take to make the grass grow?!

Twice in the last two weeks we’ve studied the Parable of the Sower at church. Usually if something is repeated, it’s important so I’m trying to pay attention!  You know, the parable really isn’t about the sower at all – note to Bible editors – it should be titled the Parable of the Soils.

I presume you are familiar with the story in Mark 4 (or Matthew 13) – the seed is the Word of God and it falls on 4 different soils which represent four different heart conditions:

The hard path – where the seed is snatched away,

The rocky soil – where the seed sprouts but has no root and withers in the harsh environment,

The thorny soil – where the weeds and cares of the world grow up and choke out the seed, and

The good soil – where the seed produces a hearty crop.

So as I eat my breakfast cereal and stare at my sand trap every morning I am thinking about how to get FERTILE soil, in my yard and in my heart.  Best I can tell, this is what needs to be done:

  • Get rid of the weeds – The worries of the world, the deceitfulness of wealth, and OTHER things that distract me from a single-minded focus of a life lived for God, they all have to go.  Pull the weeds out!  They will always grow faster than the good grass and they will steal all the energy and nutrients and eventually take over the whole yard, choking out all that is good.
  • Get rid of the rocks – Whenever there’s a rock, the grass doesn’t grow.  Gravel, cement chunks, or boulders – the bigger the rock, the bigger the bare spot in your yard and in your heart.  You cannot put down roots to sustain you in times of drought if you’ve got boulders in your yard.  Get rid of the rocks!  And sometimes you need the help of a friend (and maybe even their truck) to haul out some of the rocks in your life.  Do it.  You cannot grow grass where there are rocks.
  • Break up the hard soil – If you just have a few hard spots then a patient gardener can break them up by hand.  But if the whole place is baked hard, that gardener is going to need to run a plow through there.  I personally prefer to NOT have God run a plow through my life, so I am trying to keep my heart soft and to allow Him to break up the hard spots before they turn into something else.
  • Beat the birds – In the parable the birds that snatch away the Word represent Satan.  Are there flocks of crows in your life?  Or even just one persistent crow?  Do you need a plan to keep the birds out of your life?
  • Lots of water and fertilizer – Scripture is called the Living Water.  Drink of it daily.  Do not impose a drought upon your soul.
  • Ask other expert gardeners for help – Find a place where the seed has yielded a hundredfold and ask some questions of the gardener, learn from her.  People with beautiful gardens love to show them off and share their gardening secrets with you.  Trial and error on your own is slow and painful, go get some good advice!

Weeds?  Rocks?  Hard spots? Crows?  Water and fertilizer?  Help from other experts?  How is your soil doing?

Have you ever heard of “hardpan”?  Hardpan is a general term for a dense layer of soil, usually found about 10 inches below the uppermost soil layer.  With hardpan you can have a crop, but it will never be a great crop because 10 inches underneath the soil is hard as a rock.  One of the best ways to get rid of hardpan is to use a tool called a “ripper”.  That just doesn’t sound good.  ….  So maybe your life is ALREADY producing a crop – yea!  But beware of the hardpan deep in your soul – we don’t want to have to call in the ripper.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9

Also, check out this neat animation of the Parable of the Sower (SOILS!):

6 thoughts on “Longing for Good Soil

  1. jennifer

    once again mindy you have nailed it!! love where you took it!! God is the master cultivator!! thank you for the reminder to keep my soil fresh and tended to!

  2. Christi

    This parable is a great description of what was actually happening at the time, and what still happens today when we have our turn now to become the Sower. At the time of the parable, the Sower, Christ, was liberally and with great abandon offering the Kingdom of Heaven to all around. Miraculous physical healings along with forgiveness of sins, proclaiming in physical form the life of the spirit within, and vibrantly living out what it’s like to be One with the Father. He scattered seed to all alike. The parable is rightly about Christ the Sower and the extravagant grace given to all (whether or not they have ears to hear or eyes to see).

    In that day, the Pharisees thought they were not blind because of their many good and lawful deeds, and so they were condemned to continued hardened hearts. Those who were aware of their great need, and who had been forgiven much, had much softer hearts and the Kingdom of God was able to grow within them.

    There are many things that only God can do. The Holy Spirit draws us to himself, convicts us of sin and righteousness and causes us to seek after him. There is a danger of moralism when we turn our eyes from the Sower to ourselves as the soil and believe that we can pull out our own weeds and rocks.

    Everyone of us has a bit of the Pharisaical hard soil and a bit of the loved sinner’s soft soil. Let us ask Him daily to give us the eyes to see and the ears to hear so God’s Kingdom can grow strong in us. There is something to be said for being still, letting God know us (especially the soft parts hiding under our Pharisees), being aware that plenty of seed is scattered by the extravagant sower, and being open to God’s call to himself.

    • You know what, Christi? You are exactly right. I was so pleased with my metaphor and the (new) focus on the soils that I took the parable to a place it probably wasn’t meant to go. The idea that the Sower offers the seed of the kingdom and grace to all is EXACTLY the reason there are the short verses in between the parable and the explanation – where Jesus explains that not everyone will understand, and those who do are blessed. There is still a lot in the story about our hearts – but it is only by His GRACE and POWER that the soil of our hearts ever becomes soft.

      Tricky. I think maybe I’m tired of people whining about their lives and not making any serious effort to clean up the weeds and rocks that God has already pointed out the them. : ) On the spectrum, I lean towards Colossians 3 and our responsibility to put on the new self… but technically that’s not a salvation (receiving the seed) issue. It’s a growth issue.

      Love to be corrected!

  3. Christi

    Tricky indeed. If I ever figure out exactly what’s God’s job, and what’s mine, I’ll let you know. It’s funny how people who grew up with a lot of grace often find spiritual growth by more discipline. And those of us who grew up working really hard with little grace find spiritual growth in the opposite.

    In either case, whining is for sure not going to be the answer. 😉 Love your posts. Praying for you regularly as I know sabbatical times can be especially challenging, and I get the strong impression that something is waiting to happen in your life that is very beautiful. God’s gift is near.

    On the gardening front–my sister Karin lives on Cape Cod, and her yard used to be completely sand. She managed to grow maple trees (with imported dirt), fruit trees and started a vegetable garden. After 3 years the vegetables have created their own dirt, with some good help from her kitchen compost, and she gets LOADS and LOADS of tomatoes, cukes, lettuce, etc, etc… Of course, she is a genius. It’s incredible how much dirt is now in her yard.

    Look forward to more of your dear writing…very enriching stuff and always pulls me toward God’s word.

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