There is a monastery in Portugal that is quite a tourist attraction. The monastery is perched high on a 3,000 foot cliff. Getting to the monastery is a terrifying ride in a swaying basket that is pulled by a couple of monks.
One American tourist became very nervous halfway up the cliff when he noticed that the rope was old and frayed. To try to overcome his fears, he asked the monk how often he replaced the rope. Without batting an eye, the monk replied, “Whenever it breaks.”
I’m sure this is not what the tourist wanted to hear. And I’m sure God’s words to us are often not what we want to hear either.
Jesus in the Parable of the Sower today (Matt: 13: 1-23) tells us that God’s Word is often like seed that falls on the path, the rocky ground, the thorny ground, or on the rich soil.
When the seed falls on the path, people step on the seed. It’s never going to grow. I think Jesus is talking about prejudice here.We are close-minded and blind to anything we do not want to see. My father was sometimes negative about people of color. The last year and a half of his life he was paralyzed from the waist down and was either in the hospital or the nursing home. Who took care of him day and night? People of color! And what was he always saying ? How great and wonderful people of color were!
Some seed falls on the rocky ground. It springs up, but it is scorched and it withers.Jesus may be referring to people who are into the latest craze or fad. It only lasts a short while. A religion or a movement within a religion can be a fad. Some churches have a terrific turnover of people. I remember 30 years ago when Promise Keepers was filling stadiums with crowds of 50,000 men.
Some seed falls on thorny ground. Jesus may well be talking about people who have so many interests in life, that the most important things get crowded out. We become too busy to pray. We’re so busy there is no time to feel or experience God’s love in our life.
Finally, Jesus says that the seed – God’s Word – falls into the good soil where it produces a30-60 or 100-fold yield. There are Four Stages to such a yield:
- Our mind has to be open. We have to be willing to say a wonderful prayer each and every morning: “Lord, what do you and I have going today?”
- We have to be prepared to listen. This is why it’s always good to have two people there when the doctor gives us results of the tests we took or the operation we had. A patient is not fully prepared to hear and really grasp what the doctor says. You and I need to turn off the distractions and to fully listen to what God is saying.
- Understanding. That is the key to a bountiful harvest in life, where we think things through, know what they mean, and are prepared to accept them. Some years ago I was on vacation with my older brother. He was upsetting me and he knew it. At open point he stopped walking with me and said. “Medard, do you know why God put me in your life? To teach you patience!”
- All of the openness, listening and understanding has to be translated into action. Good fruit is produced at a 30-60 or 100-fold rate.
I enjoyed a sign I saw at a tree nursery one day: “The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The next best time to plant a tree is today!”
What tree do YOU need to plant in the garden of your life that will bloom again and again and produce fruit at a 30-60 or 100-fold rate in the days and the years ahead?