16 July 2017
Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’
I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
Then the disciples went up to him and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ ‘Because’ he replied, ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them. For anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled:
You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
see and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,
their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,
for fear they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and be converted
and be healed by me.
‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.
‘You, therefore, are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’
“The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them.”
The parable of the sower has always intrigued me from the time when I was young. The sower scatters the seeds onto various types of soil, with varying degrees of success. I have often wondered what kind of soil I was; was I the ‘rich soil’? Or did I possess a ‘thorny disposition’, resulting in the initial enthusiam for our God, only for it to slowly choke and die off?
When I started doing some research, I found that the gardener — in this case, the sower — would have taken steps to prep the ground onto which he sows the seeds. He would have first tilled the soil, taking care to remove the weeds and pebbles and rocks which would ultimately choke the sprouting seedlings. He would have done everything he could to ensure the success of his crop.
When I first started on my journey as a Christian, I felt close to God, and often felt His presence. I was the ‘good soil’! However, over time, I began to skip my daily quiet time and gradually began to drift and backslide. Over time, I felt more disengaged and no longer sensed the love and presence of our Father, Lord and the Holy Spirit. At that point, I felt that I was the ‘rocky soil’.
In the same gospel passage, Jesus talks about those who try to see and listen and yet fail to do so, regardless of how much effort they put into it. My experience was exactly that. While I called myself a Christian, I felt isolated from God.
When I attended the Conversion Experience Retreat, I rediscovered my intimacy with God and, with that, also realised that the state of being ‘good soil’ is not final. Instead, like the gardener, we need to continuously do weeding and work on our spiritual lives. We need to continually connect with God, spending time before Him. It is this consistency that helps us to remain in the right state to be so. We are always a ‘work in progress’.
We pray that we may always be on the lookout for the weeds in our lives, continually working on ourselves to connect with our God. May we not be arrogant and decide that we have already ‘made it’.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Father God, may we always be open to Your pruning and preparation in order to grow closer to You every day.
Thanksgiving – Thank You, Father, for always loving us and for never giving up on us. We are grateful for Your love and Grace.