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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Life-Giving Stories - The Story of the Soils

In my garage is a 1929 Model A that has been in our family since it was brand new.  My Grandfather purchased it in January of 1929 and drove it until it wouldn’t go anymore.  He was a man of the earth, running a business that had a florists shop and huge greenhouses where he grew wonderful plants.  Every Christmas one of those greenhouses would be filled with beautiful red poinsettias that he had grown.  He was a master.
            One of the things that Grandpa Sam understood was if you are going to grow great plants, you must have great soil.  So, every year he would hitch a trailer to the Model A, drive up into the hills of Idaho where the best dirt was and replace about 15 tons of dirt in his greenhouses.  Every year.  Trailer full by trailer full.  As a kid I remember the planting shed where Grandpa Sam made his special dirt mixture that smelled so rich and earthy.  If dirt can be beautiful, Grandpa Sam knew how to make beautiful dirt.  And that beautiful dirt produced beautiful flowers and vegetables.
            Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus’ parable of the soils.  (Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8)  In his story he identifies the different soils that seed falls upon and what happens.  There is hard soil where nothing grows, there is shallow soil that can’t sustain growth, there is contaminated soil, full of weeds that block out the good stuff and then there is good soil that produces a beautiful, rich, plentiful harvest.
            When Jesus explains his story to the disciples, he makes it clear that the soils represent the lives of people.  The seed that is sown are the words of God and, in particular, the teachings of Jesus.  The point of Jesus’ story is what happens in our life is a result of the type of soil of our life.  If you resist God’s truth, it won’t take root.  If you are shallow in your interest in truth, something might come up but it will quickly die.  If you contaminate your life with worry and things, it will kill your faith.  But, if you carefully open up the soil of your life, God’s truth will take root and put down deep roots that will bring change.
            The key way we have good soil is purposefully obeying what we hear from Jesus.  There is an old song of worship that goes like this – “Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”  Do you trust and obey?
            There are two motivations for obedience.  The most common is fear.  I obey the speed limit because I fear the CHP Officer’s ticket book and the pain it would bring my life!  Obedience because of fear doesn’t transform us, it just contains us such that, once that constraint is no longer a threat we do whatever we want.
            The other motivation for obedience is love.  I love my parents and want to please them so I live a life of obedience to them.  I love my wife so I obey her desires and wishes knowing it will bring a blessing to her and me.  I love God so I choose to obey his words because I want to honor him and please him.  Obedience fertilizes and tills the soil of our heart so God’s truth can take deep root in our life.  God’s deep rooted love will change us to be more like Jesus.
            Changing out 15 tons of dirt every year is not easy.  Especially if it is via a Model A!  But Grandpa Sam wasn’t thinking about the work, he was thinking about what he was committed to producing – beauty and excellence.
            Changing the soil of your heart isn’t easy and you will fail if that is all you think about.  But if you focus on the beauty God wants to bring, you will do it.  How is the soil of your heart?

Peace and grace,

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