I’ve been making my way through the Book of Matthew, one chapter per day (most days), for the past couple of weeks. The thing that has struck me during this reading of the Bible is how much more meaningful and relatable the passages are, now that I’ve come to depend on God more and rely on myself less. Seeing myself as a person in need of a Savior, in need of God’s grace, and unable to fulfill my own needs allows the richness of the gospel to be come through more clearly.
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13: 8-8
When Jesus’s disciplies asked him to explain the parable, he replied:
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the world and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13: 18-23
This passage reminded me of the insight Deaconess shared with me, that through these trials, God was growing my peace in Him. Before God helped me to face how much my planning and sense of control had driven me into myself and away from God, I was unable to bear good fruit. Like those who hear the word and spring up quickly without roots, I was enthusiatic about Christ, as long as it wasn’t challenging to follow him. Through God teaching me to be present in the moment and depend on him, he was tilling the soil of my life. Surrendering to Him, relying on His grace to be sufficient for my life enriched my soil to bear good fruit.
Reflecting on this parable also brings to mind the mainstream evangelical churches that focus on positive feelings and the “prosperity gospel.” When Christians act as if living a certain way will bring endless joy and happiness, they’re very much like the rocky ground that will not endure through tribulation or persecution. On the other extreme, this parable points to martyrs for the faith, including the very recent killings of Christians in Iraq; people who have heard the word and understood it, even unto death.
God knows us perfectly. He made us and sees all of our weaknesses. Reading the Bible from this position of humility and meekness certainly lightens the burden of life.