2 Samuel 7:4-17
The word of the Lord came to Nathan:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I have never stayed in a house from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today, but have always led a wanderer’s life in a tent. In all my journeying with the whole people of Israel, did I say to any one of the judges of Israel, whom I had appointed as shepherds of Israel my people: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” This is what you must say to my servant David, “the Lord of Hosts says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’
Nathan related all these words to David and this whole revelation.
Jesus began to teach by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there. The people were all along the shore, at the water’s edge. He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them, ‘Listen!, Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away. Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop. And some seeds fell into rich soil and, growing tall and strong, produced crop; and yielded thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!’
When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God is given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again, but not understand; otherwise they might be converted and be forgiven.’
He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan comes and carries away the word that was sown in them. Similarly, those who receive the seed on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy. But they have no root in them, they do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, they fall away at once. Then there are others who receive the seed in thorns. These have heard the word, but the worries of this world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing. And there are those who have received the seed in rich soil: they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’
some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun cane up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away
In our backyard is a raggedy little lemon tree. I planted it when I first arrived here in California, as a way of marking a new beginning. My little lemon tree thrived for a while and I patted myself on the back when it bore its first fruit. Good results are such a motivator! I diligently cleared the spiders away, pruned my tree and watered it. And then, my botanist neighbor informed me that the soil conditions and the layout of our backyard were not ideal for growing citrus, and that she was surprised my lemon tree had thrived at all. Though I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, my lemon tree started to falter right after that. The ground grew harder. The weather turned colder. Even sunshine became erratic. And then, the Christmas holidays descended and with family in town, I became too distracted to tend it. So the little lemon tree that had started out with so much promise, deteriorated into an unpruned mess of leaves and thorns. Even the spiders returned, bringing new troops afresh!
Looking back, I went into it too hastily, without having done all of the homework, and so floundered at the first piece of negative feedback I received. It was nothing that couldn’t have been fixed with a little research and common sense, but I got discouraged and couldn’t stick with it. My little lemon tree’s symbolism isn’t lost on me. Commitment, or the lack thereof, has always been my biggest stumbling block. I am easily shaken, especially in the face of criticism or setbacks. Like the seed that falls on rocky ground, my roots don’t seem to run very deep. It’s worrying because lately, I’ve been struggling with my faith. Not only does it seem like I have stopped growing in Him, there are days where I’m convinced I’m moving backwards. If this related to any other matter, I would probably have stopped trying by now. But this is my faith we’re talking about!
I’ve seen this coming for some time now. It’s become increasingly difficult to stay motivated about the work I do in His ministry. I find that I’m easily irritated and it takes all my willpower to hold my tongue when things annoy me. I keep telling myself that this is a phase that everyone goes through and it will pass, but it hasn’t passed. It’s persisted, and even gotten worse. Like the seed that has fallen on rocky ground, I feel the Word has stalled, or even gone backwards with me. Inspiration, which used to run like a spring of water, now seems to have dried up. There are days when I feel like barren soil.
I don’t know if this will get better anytime soon. Everything in His time, Scripture says. But why would He want me to wallow in this purgatory I’m in? I’ve trawled His Word and the sermons on the Web to find a way out of this spiritual rut, with mixed results. I feel God is waiting for me to ‘get it’, but I really don’t know if I am going to be able to figure it out or what it is I am supposed to ‘get’. I just know that every day, I wake up with the sinking feeling Luke must have had when he penned the lines, “Now take care, how well you listen, for whoever produces will be given more, but from those who do not produce, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them” (Luke 8:18). Please pray for me.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: I pray that I will be able to break out of this period of dryness that I’m in. I pray that He will show me the way back to Him because right now, I feel so lost.
Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the wealth of sermons and reflections on the internet. I give thanks for all the people who have given their time and energy so generously, to make this amazing resource available to people like me.