Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 29, 2010

A Summer Garden

As much as I love the snow, I admit that this year I am more than ready for the return of spring and the warmth of the bright spring sun. There is something about spring time that encourages even the most reluctant gardener to get their hands in that fresh, cool dirt, to plant those seeds or tiny fledgling plants and watch them take root and begin to grow. In the spring it’s fun, but turn the calendar a couple of months when that bright sun beats down hard and mercilessly, when the temperatures soar and the humidity hangs heavy. Then the joy of working in the garden becomes more of a chore. Pulling weeds in the heat of the day is not nearly as much fun as digging in that fresh dirt in the balmy weather of early spring. Yet it takes both if we are going to be able to enjoy a good harvest in the late summer or early fall.

Jesus knew a little about gardening, too. What He also knew was that the people He taught knew a little bit about gardening. So He told them a story they could understand with a truth that might be a little harder to grasp. Jesus told a story about a sower who sowed some seed (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15). Some of the seed that the sower scattered fell into the hard soil where the seed could not penetrate and take root. It lay on top of the soil and the birds devoured it. Some of the seed fell on the soft earth, but the ground was stony. So, although the seed did take root, when the hot sun began to beat down on the shallow soil, the plant just withered away. Other seed that the sower scattered fell among thorns. The thorns were like a bunch of wild weeds. They were more hardy than the young tender plants so they succeeded in outgrowing the new plants and choking them out. But some seed did fall upon the soft, fertile soil – the good ground – and they grew and grew and yielded a good crop.

Most of us have heard this parable of the sower and have probably read Jesus’ own interpretation of it in the Bible. The seed that fell on the hard ground is likened to those who hear the word, but their hearts may be hard and unresponsive, so Satan immediately takes away what was sown. The seed that was planted in the stony ground is compared to those who hear the word and receive it joyfully. Yet their commitment is lacking so they may quickly forget what they heard, or they may not endure when difficulties come. The seed that is sown among the thorns is compared to those who hear the word, but allow worldly cares to choke the word in their lives. The word cannot grow and bear fruit because these people are too concerned with things of this world – riches, pleasures, desires. Finally, the seed sown on good ground is compared to the person who hears the word, accepts it, and bears fruit.

Each time I read this parable, I cannot help but think about how I have been in every one of those places. I have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, not understood it, and instead of continuing to search or seek, I just forgot it and went my own way. And what happened? Satan removed anything I had received and blinded me to what I was doing. I have also listened, believed, and became excited about the good news. Yet when life became hard and things got a little bumpy, instead of letting my questions, doubts, or difficulties drive me to Jesus, I turned away from Him. And I have also been guilty of hearing and believing God’s word, but trying to balance it with worldly cares and pursuits. And pretty soon, the world won out. You know what I’m talking about. Instead of one trip to the lake on a Sunday morning, it becomes a trip to the lake every Sunday morning. Instead of giving money so that others can hear about Christ, we save it to buy things we don’t really need. We become self-focused instead of God-focused.

 And then sometimes, thankfully, because of God’s grace I have heard God’s word, accepted it, and was able to bear fruit – not because of me, but because of Him. Any fruit that we are able to bear is a result of God’s word taking root in our hearts and lives. So what fruit others see in our lives is a direct result of our relationship with God and how we are yielding to Him and allowing Him to live and work through us.

As a child, I can remember the joy of walking barefoot through the garden rows my Daddy just laid off and feeling the cool dirt between my toes. This was true bliss! But I also remember inching my way through the garden later in the summer, feeling the long weeds scratch my legs and the hot sun burn my skin. But as I watched Daddy every summer, I learned that he stayed faithful even when the sun was hot and the work was harder. And guess what happened? His work was rewarded with much fruit – baskets of corn, potatoes, green beans, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and peppers.

So the next time I feel that life is just getting too hard, or I’m tempted to just give in to the world and give up on God, I want to remember that summer garden. If I will keep God’s word in my heart and stay faithful to the task God has given me to do – in both the easy times and the hard times – He will bless my efforts eventually with fruit – much fruit. “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).

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