Tropical Garden – Good News for January 27

27 01 2010

Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him  so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them:

“Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

The Daily Path: When lava emerges from the depths of the earth, it’s molten hot. Nothing stands in its way. With exposure to the outer atmosphere of water and air, it starts to cool, comes to rest and begins to harden. For centuries it retains its sharp, rocky characteristics. But it’s also very porous. Millions of tiny openings wait for particles to come to rest and fill its little caverns. Eventually the lava does break down and ultimately becomes rich soil where, with some water, lush tropical gardens grow. But without the water, nothing will grow.

I recall the period in my life when Scripture had no meaningful place. My soil was all pathway made of lava rock. Despite the periodic opportunities I was presented to embrace the Word and allow it to sink in, it really had no chance to take hold. In most cases, I embraced my cravings and the hard rocky exterior. In doing so I just wouldn’t permit penetration to occur.

Of course, I do remember moments over time when I flirted with the Word. Little particles fell into my pores. But, just as Jesus describes in this parable, the interest quickly faded, once again overcome by the allure of the world. My rock was not yet rich soil.

But here I am, seemingly centuries later. Now there is soil. In the relatively short period since my reconversion, the seed of the Word has taken root. In many ways it has sprouted and shot up like a weed in the spring. But is this flower just a weed born of shallow soil and week roots? Will the waters of His grace continue to nourish my roots so that I can grow stronger and withstand the heat of this life?

I don’t think God has gone to all the trouble of getting my attention just to allow me to wither away. But I don’t expect it will be easy. In my little microclimate of spirituality, there will be drought that follows spring. Stark winter to follow the vibrant colors of autumn. But in those times when my roots will be tested, there is a constant… the Word. And in the Word exists the hope that a lush tropical garden will eventually spring forth for the rest of my days.