My Bible readings for this past week included the parable of the ‘Soils’; more commonly known as the ‘Sower and the Seed’. The parable describes some seed, the word of God, that is sown into four different kinds of soil, and the response of each soil to that seed. The first soil is unresponsive to the word, it never takes root. The seed in the second soil sprouts and begins to grow. But it is killed by persecution and difficulties in life. The seed sown in the third soil also sprouts and grows some. But it is choked out by thorns, the worries and pleasures of life. Finally, the seed in the fourth soil not only sprouts and grows but is productive and fruitful.
Seed Sown on Thorny Ground
I cannot read this parable without thinking about the soil of my own life. The word of God has been sown and, unlike the first soil, has sprouted and grown some; but how much? As much as I would like to be the productive soil that bears much fruit, too often I fear that the thorns are too thick and entangling.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19 NIV)
I am very familiar with thorns. I live in a place where the Himalayan Blackberries grow in profusion and are all but impossible to eradicate. Only by continuous and persistent effort can these thorns be held in check. Left alone long enough they will engulf the land and choke out pretty much everything else.
The Thorns of My Life
I find these blackberries illustrate the thorny soil very well. I am too often distracted from the good I want to do by the worries of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things. Concerns about family, the need to tend to my house and yard, the adventures found in a good novel, exploration of the creation (AKA hiking), physical fitness and health, and continuing to learn and grow as a person. The thorns in my life come in many different forms. But they all share in common the ability to choke out my spiritual development.
Some people may find that their thorns are bad things and directly harmful to them. But it seems to me that most of my thorns are much better disguised. It is hard to look at one of them and say ‘This is a bad thing’ and I should not do it. And yet, if they choke out the word of God, and prevent it from being fruitful in the soil of my life, is it not a thorn?
“Father, I pray that you would take your hoe to the thorny ground in my life and uproot those thorns that try so hard to choke out the fruit that you desire to see grow in me. May the soil of my life be fruitful and may its fruit bring honor to you.”