In my previous blog (September 12), we examined the Parable of the Sower (farmer) scattering seed in Luke 8:4-15 (NLT) as well as its effect on the mind and heart of one boy, i.e., me, many years ago. Here is a recap in case you missed Part 1.
As a boy, the first time I heard the Parable of the Sower, in fact the first many times I heard it and then read it, I thought Jesus was telling me there are four types of people inside or outside His Kingdom, and I had to discern the category into which I fit.
First, “those who hear the message [of God], only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved.”
I hoped this was not me. I loved Jesus, and I wanted to believe and be saved, but was I kidding myself? Had Satan somehow already won?
I was starting to get worried.
Second, “those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.”
I tried to avoid sin, but sometimes I gave in to temptation. I was just a kid, but a sin is a sin, right? Was it time to give up?
Heaven was looking a long way away.
Third, “those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.”
Again, I was just a boy, so riches and pleasures were not an issue, but what about the cares of this life? Yes, I admitted, I did worry a lot. I worried about my mom. I worried about death. And now I worried about not getting to Heaven.
I could feel Heaven slipping further away.
Fourth, those who are “honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”
Could this be me? Let’s check the list. What about honest? Well, I did lie when I was afraid, and although I had never stolen anything, I was with a friend once when he shoplifted a candy bar – and I didn’t do anything about it. What about good-hearted? I knew I was trying, but there were times when anger and hate entered even my child-sized heart. And what about patiently producing a huge harvest? No, I was very impatient as a boy, and I certainly didn’t see any huge harvest coming by my hand.
My hopes of Heaven all but disappeared.
No matter how young or old you are, the Parable of the Sower should cause you to stop and ponder. Perhaps you will pat yourself on the back and know that everything is well with your soul. But perhaps like me so many years ago, it will trouble you and even bring you to the brink of despair.
But God showed the way and the truth – as He always does, and as He always will.
As I grew older, had children of my own, and finally began trying to place Jesus at the center of my life, things began to change. As I began to talk with Him, walk with Him, and feel the emptiness of my heart without Him, I began to see things from a different perspective. Then, all at once, re-reading Luke 8:4-15 for the umpteenth time, it hit me: this parable is not about God comparing me to others; it is about God wanting me to change the nature of my “soil,” that is, my heart, and open it completely to His amazing grace.
That may not seem like an epiphany to you, but it changed my entire understanding of these verses – and it changed my world.
The Word of God, and God’s relentless pursuit of our hearts, will do that.
When you have had enough of this fallen world and its lies, when you have climbed whatever ladder you put in place to achieve your earthly success only to discover that the ladder really went nowhere, then you, too, will understand the conclusion that Blaise Pascal – mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher – reached more than three hundred fifty years ago:
What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.
Regardless of where you are on your life’s journey, you need to ask yourself, “Am I trying to fill the emptiness in my heart with anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ?”
The answer will reveal how open your heart truly is to God, His message, and the seeds of His grace.
If we, as children of God, want to ask and receive, seek and find, and knock and enter (Luke 11:9-10), if we want God’s grace to do what we so desperately need it to do in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones, then we must fully and intentionally prepare ourselves so God’s grace finds us as good, fertile soil (Luke 8:8, 15), ready to receive His grace and bring forth a harvest of blessings, rather than finding us as hard, rocky, or thorny soil (Luke 8:5-7, 12-14), unable to bring forth any harvest at all.
And to achieve this, we must open our hearts to God and welcome His grace into our lives so all things can work together for our good as God intended (Romans 8:28).
Beginning today, open your heart to the seeds of God’s grace so He can bring forth a harvest of blessings for you and your loved ones.
-- Dr. John Morris