Then Jesus told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.” – Matthew 13:3 (NIV)
Last winter was long and cold. In month after month of bitter temperatures, I would picture in my mind how it felt to be driving in my car with the windows down, wearing a tank top and shorts – and SWEATING. If I kept my eyes closed long enough, I could even feel the hot sun on my face.
We waited a long time for summer this year. After 14 years in Milwaukee, I still struggle with our cold, wet springs. Lake Michigan, which gives us beautiful fall temperatures, holds onto the cold well into May. It was after Memorial Day before the trees had fully leafed out.
This summer hasn’t been as hot as I’d hoped, and it’s been kind of rainy. In the grand scheme of things, this is good because we have been in a drought for a while. I don’t water my yard or plants much – again the angst of using drinking water for my plants – but there is a dry spot in my yard that I try to keep from getting too dry.
Having been out-of-town most of this summer, I’ve failed. This part of the yard is higher than the rest so any water that lands on it runs off quickly. The grass is never as green as the rest of the yard and weeds seem to thrive.
This ground has some deep cracks in it.
As I was finishing my run this morning, it began to rain and looked like it would pour. Unfortunately, it lasted all of three minutes. With rain in the forecast, I turned on the sprinkler. Why? To soften the ground. When it gets so dry that cracks form in the ground, a heavy rain just runs off. Even though the ground is thirsty, the rain will not soak in.
“Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” – Matthew 13:5-6 (NIV)
As I continue to read and think about what the Church is called to be and become, I wonder if we aren’t like this patch of grass in my yard that cannot hold water. I wouldn’t go as far as saying we’re a rocky place because the Church is responding to the good seed that God sows. And I think we help prepare the ground so that others can receive the good seed. But there are some deep cracks forming.
This patch of ground in my yard has the potential to grow lush, green grass. It responds to the sun and the rain that God provides. But sometimes it soaks up too much sun and the ground gets hard – unable to grow strong roots or choke out the weeds that constantly threaten it.
This is why I water a little bit before a big rain when it has gotten too dry.
It’s not a matter of just patching the cracks – we’re thirsty for much more than that. I believe we need to let God’s faithfulness sink in so that we can be ready to trust more fully. I wonder in what ways our good soil is too hard to receive what God is calling us to next. Where do the Church, our individual congregations, and ourselves need to let God water us a little bit to prepare us to bear fruit for the Kingdom?
I don’t know what the big rain is going to be but I do know that we’re not ready.Faithful and loving God, my heart isn’t hard but there are some cracks that need to be healed and prepared. Help me to receive your preparation for what you call me to next – even when that softening water may be a word of correction or a closed-door. Let me work with you so that I may become good soil, ready to go where you call. Amen.
”Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” – Matthew 13:8-9 (NIV)