“Consider this: A farmer went out to sow seeds. As he cast his seeds some of it fell along the beaten path and soon the birds came and ate it. Other seeds fell onto gravel with no topsoil and the seeds quickly sprouted since the soil had no depth. But when the days grew hot, the sprouts were scorched and withered because they had insufficient roots. Other seeds fell among the thorns, so when the seeds sprouted so did the thorns, crowding out the young plants so that they could produce no grain. But some of the seeds fell onto good, rich soil that kept producing a good harvest. Some yielded thirty, some sixty—and some even one hundred times as much as was planted! If you understand this, then you need to respond.”
Recently as I read the Parable of the Sower, I was struck by my human tendency to read a Bible story and categorize myself or others. How often I’ve read the parable and tried to figure out which of the four soils described my heart. I tried to make sense of the story by seeing myself as having hard, gravelly, thorny, or rich soil. Just one of the four.
Likewise, I’ve read the story of Mary and Martha, and asked myself who I am, Mary or Martha? Just one of the two.
I’ve read the story of the Prodigal son and seen myself as either the prodigal or the elder son. Just one of the two.
My thinking is dualistic. I am either/or. In order to differentiate between things, my mind goes to a place of sorting out. Fruitful or shallow. Contemplative or hurried. Selfish or justified. Good or bad. Loving or unloving. And so on.
I’m beginning to realize, however, the reality that I am actually both/and.
Life is full of non-dualistic realities.
At any given time, I can be both contemplative AND distracted.
I can have areas of healthy soil AND areas of hard, gravelly, and thorny soil all at the same time.
I can be the Prodigal AND the elder son.
I am human and limited and sin every day AND I am God’s Beloved daughter.
I am a loving parent AND I have said and done things that have affected my children in negative ways.
This leads me to look at the parable of the sower with different eyes. Realizing that my heart can have all four types of soil, there are questions I have begun to ask which have the potential to lead to transformation and growth, rather than stagnation and legalism.
What are the areas of my heart that are hardened, like the beaten path? What beliefs do I still have about myself or God that keep the truth from penetrating? What is the enemy using in my life to keep me stuck?
What are the areas of my heart that have no depth, where the seeds quickly sprout but don’t take root? What distractions or justifications keep God’s Word at a distance because I don’t feel like going there? Where am I content to live in a shallow place because it feels like too much effort to do the hard work of digging and going deeper?
What are the thorns (attachments or desires) in my life I cling to that take so much time and space that God’s word is “choked” and is unable to grow? What occupies my attention? Worry? Busyness? Wealth? Entertainment? Technology?
What are the areas in my heart that are fruitful? What seeds of truth have been planted in my life which are producing fruit? Where is truth going deep, taking root, and overflowing into the world around me?
Looking at my heart with God and without self condemnation has started a process where He can shine His light into these hardened areas and bring about much needed life and health.
Praise God for His continued faithfulness to bring about freedom and life. For revealing those things that keep us stuck, but because of His great love, is not willing to leave us there.
For Reflection: Read the parable and ask yourself the questions. What is God revealing to you about the soil of your heart?