Over the years of growing gardens, I’ve become disappointed often with the results. Sometimes I am amazed at how much did grow, but many other times I’ve found myself saying, “That’s it? That’s all I’m getting out of this effort?”
Some of the problem here in Maryland is the soil where I have more recently had the garden, though it is far from terrible (even if it’s not New Jersey soil!). More of it has had to do with the location that is too shaded too much of the day.
But one thing I know I can’t do, and that is to blame the seed. There is nothing wrong with that; it is a soil condition and location issue that has thwarted more recent efforts. Or failure to nurture and water appropriately.
In the parable we have been looking at in Mark 4, the seed speaks of God’s Word, and there is nothing wrong with that. Where there was no fruit, the past three days we have detailed the soil conditions that contributed to the absence. And now today, even with fruit being produced, there is a variety to the amount of yield. Jesus told the story like this …
8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
In the later interpretation in verse 20, Christ said …
20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
It was 40 years ago that I remember a sermon on this passage being preached in my home church by a new assistant pastor, a man who came into ministry out of being a regular attender in the pews of the church. He introduced it by saying that, in his early months of serving and working with the congregants he often asked our older, long-term pastor why it was that some people seemed to “get it” and move ahead, while others heard all of the same stuff but never appeared to be impacted. And our senior pastor would just answer, “Read the parable of the sower and the seed.”
It is so true, and I’ve lived to see it now over the past 40 years of ministry. Some people come and look interested for a time, but they’re gone almost as quickly as they came … something else caught their attention. Others hang around longer before some life event, good or bad, drives them away. And others produce fruit for a while, even good fruit, but they don’t sustain it over the years and the thought that changing their garden location will make all the difference leads them up the road or down the road … often over and over.
But there are people, lots of them, who are what I called in this week of soul conditions the “producers,” who regularly bring to fruition a good yield in the life of ministry and service. Yet even here, there is room for us to ask if we are producing at the level we should, given the gifts and skills the Lord gives to each individually.
So be a producer, don’t settle for tasting, dabbling and seasonally treating church and faith like a hobby.
And we conclude this theme by asking, “How is your heart? How is your soul?” What can you do to become a producer, or to produce at a higher level?