If you have read the parable of the sower from Matthew 13, have you ever thought about the fact that we are the soil? I think far too often we have assumed that if we become Christians suddenly we are the sower and don’t have to worry about anything but getting our message to those who will hear it. But, as Pastor Chad is preaching about for the next few weeks, we are the soil, and God is the Master Gardener. We are not to hold the seed closely; we have to let it grow and bear fruit. We can’t just listen to the Word; we have to actually do what it says. (James 1:22)
The most encouraging news is that no matter how bad our soil is, God can help us make it better. Whether we start with hard, rocky, or weedy soil, we can make it good soil. But, guess what, it’s going to take a lot of work. Sometimes it’s not pretty, and it’s definitely not going to happen quickly. To truly make hard soil better, time and effort are key.
Hardened soil can get packed down by weight, weather, negligence, or intentional compacting. I think intentional compacting is one of the most common and the easiest to ignore. We hear God’s voice speaking to us, reminding us of our sin and the way He wants us to go, and we ignore it. We push down the desire to be better in certain areas. We say, “Oh, that’s just the way I am.” This makes our hearts hardened to His voice. It makes that still, small voice very difficult to hear. Like Pharoah in Exodus, we see the miracles and think about change, and then harden our hearts again and again.
The biggest problem with hardened soil is that we want a quick fix and want to just smash it all up and break it down. Did you know roto-tilling your soil can more often than not do more harm than good? This is one of my faults. I tend to want to hack through the mess, rather than gently and slowly working on the problems. I want to get it all out there and then work on it, but that really doesn’t produce good fruit. Seeing this has taken years and years, and yet I still fail many times. But I know God hasn’t given up on me, so I keep trying to do what is right. We can’t give up. When our soil seems too far gone or a loved one’s soil seems too hard, we can’t give up. It takes time, and with that time, many mistakes will be made. It may even seem like nothing is happening, but don’t give up. We have to practice patience and love with ourselves and with others.
Hardened soil needs to be covered in good stuff. Layers to soften it up and layers of nutrients to get it back to where it needs to be to produce good fruit. Layers of grace, smothered with love. Layers of hope, and lots of encouragement.
The problem with hardened soil is that, depending on our environment, once we have corrected our soil, we can revert back to being hard if we aren’t careful of how we care for it. We must be aware of the weight of the world that is pushing us down. We have to ask for God’s help in finding time to breathe and just be in His presence. Be aware of the constant change of the weather of the world. You can get whiplash from trying to keep up with one group or another. God should be our focus, and the rest of the world should be background noise. Be aware that keeping up good soil is a continual process. It cannot be neglected. And don’t ignore that still, small voice. Listen for it. Hang on every word. He knows what we need far better than we ever will.