““Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.””
Mark 4:3-8 NASB
Life in a congregation is a living embodiment of the parable of the sowers. Having been in church consistently the last twenty odd years, I have seen all the soils on display for my instruction. In my early days I attended a great church that emphasized evangelism. We had musicals that not only entertained the mind but convicted the heart.
I marveled at the huge numbers of people who would come forward at the invitation or altar call. So many people! For a week or so many of those faces would could be seen in the auditorium on the next Sunday, seemingly eager to hear the word and enter a new life in Christ.
As time passed, however, I could also see that many drifted away week by week. Of the seemingly vast number from the event, a small number remained.
Why did three seeds fail to grow deep and one seed bear fruit? I think many make decisions in the emotion of the moment. They do not count the cost. Coming to Christ is serious business, not to be considered lightly.
In my own life I did not make a snap decision on Easter Sunday 1998. There was a work being done in me by a glorious God who saw my need, extended His grace and drew my wounded heart with His loving Holy Spirit. For months He used so many things to draw me. He sent people like Jan Roberts, a colleague in my teaching days, into my life to show me Jesus. He used sad experiences like the suicide of a stranger in my apartment building, a man with no hope. He used conviction of my heart as the sins that so ensured me became unbearable.
By the time the moment came to receive Jesus, I was ready. I knew my life was going to change and that the change was going to mean I would never be the same again. I wanted something new.
The soil was prepared, fertilized by the blood of Jesus and watered by my tears as I mourned over my sins. When I look back the growth has been steady and ongoing. There have been lean years, for sure, but God is faithful. I am so thankful!
“The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.””
Mark 4:14-20 NASB
Pray for fertile soil!
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