I like listening to the bible on tape or cd. It never ceases to amaze me how the same stories affect me differently every time I hear them. I understand, notice, and am aware in many different ways with each story, parable, lesson or captured interaction.
The other day, I heard the parable of the sower. In it, Jesus tells the story of a farmer who plants seeds for a harvest and gives four scenarios of what happened to the seeds.
A fascinating parable, it is one of only a few where Jesus actually tells the meaning of the allegorical-like story.
Matt 13:20-22 (NIV)
20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
In short, in three of the four settings, we either allow: (1) let the enemy take it; (2) allow trouble or persecution destroy it; or (3) the worries of life, deceitfulness of wealth and other desires choke it – each scenario rendering us fruitless. It is only in the forth, one out of four, that we see productivity – thirty, sixty and hundred times that which was originally planted.
I was struck for the first time that perhaps these are not separate individuals. That is, the different types of soil presented are actually the same person at different times in his or her life. What if, we were all, at one time or another unproductive with our seeds? What if we let problems and heartaches or our search for more material things get in the way? What if from time to time we let opportunities slip to bring forth fruit from the word of God that we hear in songs, sermons, reading or studying? Nurturing good soil requires purposeful practice of spiritual disciplines – the basics: prayer, fasting, mediation and reading/studying the word. Being fruitful in life is no accident.