Matthew 13:1-9 – The Parable of the Sower and the Seed
What are you? At your core, do you know where you are sown?
- Are you devoured, completely enclosed in the belly of some beast? In the grip of some worldly passion, an art, a sport, or a business? Passionately engaged in a good cause, like environmental conservation or social activism? None of these are wrong. Yet this world is passing away ›› 1 John 2:17, and we are reminded not to consider any of the things of this world permanent or ultimate ›› 1 Cor 7:31. Your state, whatever it is, is temporary, be it like Noah in the belly of the whale. Live passionately by all means, but not without proper knowledge ›› Prov 19:2, Romans 10:2. Otherwise you may end up standing before your Creator arguing “but i did X and Y and was so passionate and achieved this and that…” – and He may reply something like “but I had made you for Z, and you missed it, because you never asked.”
- Are you on shallow ground, between a rock and a hard place, wedged into a flinty crag? Enthusiastic about everything new but not following through, not holding on when the storms come? This parable can be misunderstood fatalistically: “oh well, if i’m a seed thrown onto rock, i cannot help it that i do not bear fruit, i am just thrown into life, i cannot choose to be planted in good soil…” — this is a good illustration of the mystery of destiny and free will. From our Creator’s perspective, the seeds are all cast and He knows who is on what ground. Yet for us, while experiencing progressive time, our fate is not sealed. You may be sown onto rock, and tossed around by the winds, here and there. Yet exactly this may lead to you eventually flying onto fertile soil! Make yourself light and get ready to fly to a life far better than you ask or imagine ›› Eph 3:20.
- Are you among thorns? It helps to identify these: what is growing over your head, is it work? finances? family? politics? desperation about the state of this world with all its injustices? And then, what do you do? My temptation is often just to despair into my incapability. Yet our Creator is a merciful Lord, if we sense that things are growing over our heads, we can ask to be transplanted into good soil. This will mean uprooting.
- Are you on good soil? Congratulations, enjoy it, bear fruit and stay humble, realising that you are a blessing to others and that you are lucky, having earth, nutrients, water and light, and it is your privilege to make the most of it.
Again, this is not a fate parable. Most of us will be on different ground at different times or our lives. I hear the nagging suggestions by the adversary every day: “you’re irrelevant. you’re getting old, things are congealing and won’t change anymore. just give up and pale into indifference…” and such like. It is important to resist these thoughts. Nobody is a hopeless case.
What category do you see yourself in most? Keep in mind, at any given time you can really only be in one group:
- The thorns won’t grow well on rocky ground either. and you’re not taking deep root, able to get blown or dropped onto better soil.
- If you’re devoured, you’re lifted off whatever soil you were on, are in transition and will be deposited elsewhere, maybe on good ground! Many tree species rely on birds or mammals to disperse their seed. Some seeds even germinate better after they’ve been digested. Your worldly passions can take you places, shape your appearance, mold you into shapes, but they can also quickly drop you, once you’re too old for this sport, not good enough for that role, failing in your endeavours, or succeeding – George Bernard Shaw wrote: “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.” and Oscar Wilde wrote something similar. The questions “so now what?” “is this all life is?” will appear.
- Among the thorns, at least you have some soil and are protected from animals. The thorns challenge you to exceed them, driving you upwards. Maybe the purpose of the thorns is for you to call on the Lord and rely on Hers strength
›› 1 Peter 5:7, Phil 4:13, James 1:2-4 and James 1:12.
Under thorns is the state i most often see myself in. I justify myself: i need to make a living after all, be there for the people around me, meet expectations… and before i know the day is over and i haven’t asked my Creator for direction or guidance by His Holy Spirit.
Whilst we are breathing and day is called “today” (Heb 3:13), there is hope for change and fruit. This world is coming to an end, and dramatic change is ahead. So don’t settle too much into this temporary habitation ›› Heb 13:14. Let’s prepare and take courage. Our Creator knows what S/he is doing.