In Mark 4, we encounter Jesus telling the parable of a sower who scattered seed that fell in four different locations. Three of the locations were not suitable and resulted in the seeds being eaten by scavengers, dying under the harsh conditions or being choked out by surrounding weeds. However, the fourth location was just right and eventually bore immeasurable returns.
When we hear this parable we quickly surmise that some of the seeds most have fallen into three conditions that they really should have never gone. At first glance, it appears that Jesus is saying, if you see any of these conditions we should walk away from them and there is no point in engaging it. Even the English translation of the word scatter means to throw in various random directions. This adds to the thought that the seeds that landed on the barren land seemed to have been truly distributed there accidentally. After all, what good sower would plant seeds in such conditions on purpose?
I invite you to consider something about the God that created you all the way to the very cells that divided to bring your first heartbeat. A God who fashioned that heartbeat out of good soil when he breathed first breath into Adam. I invite you to consider a God who before he made Adam created the soil that Adam was made of.
Soil is made of rocks
The very rocks that Jesus says is not suitable to plant seeds in. Soil is made from a ground that was once shallow and unable to sustain, for very long, the life of things that sprouted up. Yet over time, the wind and elements continued to beat at the rocks and yielded the perfect mixture that eventually turned those rocks into clay.
Soil is made of clay
The very clay that Jesus said seeds landed on, sprouted up and quickly died because the soil was not good. Clay is a place where shallow rooted plants like weeds and thorns thrive and choke out all other life that require deeper roots. Yet over time, the essence of these weeds and of their victims, became nutrients that continued to break away at the rock and the clay to yield the perfect mixture that eventually turned that clay into good soil.
Good soil is…
…humus-rich, nutrient filled organic matter where biological activity is at its highest. A soil that is now capable of sustaining, growing and nurturing life. Good soil exists because the clay existed and the clay exists because the rock existed and the rock exists because there was once a mountain that seemed immovable and impenetrable; yet over time it gave in to the will of time and elements by breaking down into rocks and pebbles.
Some of you opened your eyes at birth and discovered you were a seed that was “scattered” onto rocky soil or even on a mountain top. You may have been born ill, born into a messy family situation, inherited the difficulties associated with a certain race or class, or you were simply born with certain attractions and addictions that made navigating life harder.
Others woke up one day and discovered that they were a seed “scattered” onto firm ground but that ground turned into clay. You thought you had a hold on that addiction, on your anger, on your finances or on your personal bigotries but they kept rising up and choking the life out of you and your relationships.
You may look at all of that, hear Jesus’ parable and believe for some reason that you are lost or that there is no good that can come of what you do because of the circumstances you find yourself trying to thrive in.
I invite you to consider a God who used the mountains that would overshadow us, the rocks that would destroy us and the clay that would choke out our potential and created from their ashes and dust the foundation of sustainable and exponential growth and life.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121)
Good soil takes so much to create. It takes so much breaking, refining, decomposing and pressing together. As Jesus says in Luke 6:38, “A Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap.” God challenges and breaks us every day. He refines and decomposes parts of us every day. That rocky soil that you are standing in will break down into powder. Those thorns that are choking your life and relationships will decompose. Your God will use the rocks and thorns of our hearts and circumstances to make us into good soil. He will re-make us into what we were originally made from.
I invite you to pray this prayer
Heavenly father, I want to be good soil. I invite you to break apart the rocks. The rocks I throw at myself and the rocks I am tempted to pick up and throw at others. Break the rocks into dust Lord. Take the places that are causing me deep hurt, deep loss and spiritual death and turn them into the stuff of life, growth and expanse.
Break apart the binds of addiction
Dull the glimmer of fame, fortune and prestige
Break apart my pride, my entitlements and my ego
Press me down lord and shake me up until I am running over in your love
A love that gives life.
Lord I want to be good soil.