Matthew 13 3-9, 18-23
“Then He told them many things in parables, saying, ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.’
…(Then Jesus said), ‘Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed and fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ “
I’ve said it before. I have a brown thumb. I have one living plant in my home, it’s some kind of ivy that is only still alive because I’m told you can’t kill it. It was sent to me from my old employer at the time of my first cancer surgery, and I’ve been determined to never let it die. Anything else related to horticulture, flowers, plants, etc., I leave to my sweet neighbor friend Ankita.
Her favorite thing to do is dig in the dirt and plant beautiful arrangements of flowers. Her yard is pretty bright and full, so this year she moved her creativity over to my yard. She planted a few flowers, and we’ve talked about what we can do (actually, what SHE can do) to spruce up my boring flower bed area.
When we built the house, I told the builder that I wanted red or pink crepe myrtles in the front yard. The builder told me the trees were already ordered, but he thought that I was actually going to get some crepe myrtles. Well, I did. Ugly, boring white ones that are currently overrunning the front of my house. I know, I know, I’m pretty picky for someone who doesn’t have a green thumb, but I do have an eye for what looks good…and two big white crepe myrtles just don’t work for me aesthetically.
As I said, I have two white crepe myrtles, and they anchor each side of my house. Actually, they are taking over the front of my house. We trim them back, and they grow more. (I guess that’s how it’s supposed to work!) Anyway, Ankita and I devised a plan to make me happy. We were going to dig up the big white crepe myrtles and transplant them into my back yard. Then I want to replace them with red or pink crepe myrtle bushes, ones that won’t grow so tall. By doing so, I’ll get the color I want without having the tall, lanky trunk with ugly white flowers. (Did I mention white crepe myrtles are ugly?)
So I’ve done some research, and it seems that the best time to transplant a crepe myrtle in Texas is after they go dormant, so I’m thinking that’s going to be in late October, early November. And that’s what the plan is.
But I can’t help but wonder if the trees will make it in my back yard after I transplant them, or will they be scorched when the heat returns because their roots aren’t deep or strong enough to sustain life. Our lawn guy told me it’ll probably be a 50-50 survival possibility. But from what I’ve read, they are hearty trees, and it’s a lot harder to kill them, so I’m going with the internet. :) I’m just going to hope and pray the soil in my back yard is the “good soil that produces a crop.”
Bringing the verses back to home, obviously, the tree analogy doesn’t really explain what Jesus meant. When we share the Gospel with someone who has never accepted Christ as their Savior, well that seed sometimes falls on bad soil. When that happens, usually the person isn’t ready to hear or is so mad at God about something that they refuse to hear. That’s when the birds eat up the seed or the seed falls in a rocky place where there’s not much soil.
Sometimes we share the Gospel with people and they show an interest in the seed we’ve planted. But then something interrupts that desire to learn more, thorns that prevent growth. And then sometimes those seeds take root and allow growth.
This same parable of Jesus can be applied unilaterally to anything we hear, really. How many times do we get really excited about something new, but we lose interest and the desire falls by the wayside? How many times do we become determined to lose weight, eat right, and exercise daily (usually around January 1st) but by January 3rd, the seed that was planted has fallen on rocky soil with birds eating it up.
And for Christians out there, how many times does the Holy Spirit speak to us in a still small voice, nudging us to take action on something for Him, only to forget it completely by Monday morning?
My challenge today is to let the good seed of Jesus, whether it's the Gospel or His still small voice take root in my life so that I don't allow thorns and birds to kill my desire to obey. My prayer is that 1) when we transplant my crepe myrtles in a few weeks that they will live, but much more importantly 2) when God speaks, I will listen and obey, allowing His seed to penetrate deep in my life, taking root that no one can dig up or kill. I want my life to be an example of a beautiful red crepe myrtle being used to glorify my God!
--- Beth Banfill