Thursday, December 29, 2016

Choking Thorns

Today I (Scott) read one of the parables that always seems to speak to me - the parable of the sower. A man sowed seed in his field. Some fell on the path, the hard-packed ground where people walked. Some fell on the rocky ground. Some fell among the thorns. Some fell on the prepared tilled ground. The seed on the path was eaten by birds, never penetrating the ground. The seed on the rocky ground grew in the limited soil there but withered since it had shallow roots among the rocks. The seed among the thorns grew but the thorns also grew and choked it; this seed was unproductive. The seed that fell on the good ground produced an abundant crop.

I'm definitely not a farmer and not even a good grower of any plant. (Plants beg me not to take them home from the garden center.) But I understand this parable. And Jesus even explains the parable so that we less agriculturally inclined can understand. (See Mark 4:1-20.) Here's the breakdown:
  • Seed is the word of God.
  • The path represents those who hear the word but ignore/disregard it; Jesus says that Satan snatches the seed from them.
  • The rocky ground illustrates those who hear the word and respond joyfully to what they hear; but do not allow it to take root in their lives and any opposition to it causes it to wither in their lives.
  • The thorny ground represents those who receive the word but let the worries and desires of the world to choke out its influence. They produce no spiritual fruit.
  • The good ground are those who hear the word and let it change their lives; they impact others with God's message.
So often I find myself among the thorns. I worry about what's happening around me. I become distracted by earthly pursuits and concerns. I let other things take root in the soil of my spirit and push aside God's word in me. 

Maybe that's what this current part of my journey is all about. Maybe He's pruning out the thorns, trying to make room for the seed of His word to produce fruit. 

As I said, I'm a terrible gardener. At the end of the fall, I worked to clean out flower beds. Our poor azalea has had to contend with other "unplanted" things growing by and through it. I pulled out all the weeds, grass, and other plants. (Pulled with great difficulty since I didn't tend to them when they were small and more easily dealt with.) A few days after this, I noticed that the azalea seemed fuller; it spread out and up - because there was room for it. It benefited from any rain that fell since no other plants were soaking it up.

So, as this year ends and the next one dawns, I'm evaluating and thinking and praying. What things are growing in my spiritual life that were not planted by Him? What things are soaking up valuable resources and energies? What thorns are choking out the fruitful word in my life? 

I think I have some weeding to do.

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