Yesterday in church, Pastor Brad gave a wonderful sermon on Matthew 13, the parable of the sower and the seed. Jesus taught about how a farmer scattered some seed and it fell in four different places, producing four different results. Later in the chapter, He teaches how it was a parable about how God's Word is scattered and recieved in four different ways, producing four different results.
As I listened to the sermon, I was struck how I had experienced each and every soil. You see, the first example He gives is when the seed is scattered and falls on the hard path, and it never penetrates, never goes anywhere because the heart is hard. Jesus teaches it represents the enemy coming along and snatching the word right out off that cold heart. I remember feeling this, thinking this whole Bible thing was for Jesus freaks and goody-goodies. I kind of giggled to myself as I thought "I guess that would be a sort of spiritual rigor mortis!"
The second example was seed being scattered and falling on rocky soil - looks good initially but the roots are really shallow and when the heat comes (which represent tough times) it withers up and dies. I remember feeling this way, too - like I wanted to believe what the Bible said but once I was persecuted for being someone who was a Christian, I would deny it to save face. No root. No reality.
The third example was seed scattered on good soil but there were weeds planted near it and when it springs up, the weeds choke the life out of the plants. That would be an example of someone who hears the word, receives it with joy and then the cares of the world strangle the person and his or her faith is proven to be false and unable to withstand. I've been there too - as soon as I begin to worry, I focus on the worry and my life spirals out of control as I begin to trust myself (big mistake).
Finally, the seed that is planted in ready, tilled and fertile soil springs up plants and grows produces a crop that is way beyond expectation - because the example is a person whose faith is genuine, and brings with it what the Bible calls the fruit of repentance that show evidence of a new life and a changed heart.
I never realized that my life could have represented each of those soils at certain points in my walk. But they really do. I sort of said a little mini-prayer during the sermon and asked God how that could be - it seems once you're withered, choked, or hardened there would be no hope. Once spiritual rigor mortis sets in, the hope is sort of squashed! But as I prayed, I realized something really, really cool.
In Acts chapter 2, The Holy Spirit is compared to "a blowing violent wind" and often in the Bible you will hear about how God uses the wind to compare the works of the Holy Spirit (you can't see it, but you know it's there, etc..). So my thought was that the Holy Spirit, like a wind, came along and blew me right where He needed me to be so I would take root and enjoy the fruitfulness of true faith. And then I remembered something so very important - Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life - so even if you are choked or withered or even if spiritual rigor mortis has set in, He can breathe new life into even the deadest of seed.
I don't know about you - but that brings me tremendous comfort. And it also helps me to relate to those who have felt stuck in poor soil or among choking weeds. God has a plan and He will never, ever give up on us.
If you are praying for someone, never lose hope. Our Lord is faithful! He can do what others think cannot be done. One never knows when His Holy Spirit will come along, revive a lost soul and blow it into the direction of fertile soil!