I visited Lisa’s garden last summer. What a sight to see! It was a thing of beauty, carefully planted, faithfully tended. Though I am no gardener I can tell you one thing for certain, that plot of a land reflected both intention and effort. It did not ‘just happen.’ Seeds were planted and tended. The seedlings were nurtured to growth with watering and weeding. And, all that work produced food for the Keenan’s table that is still being enjoyed this winter.
Your life is a garden. God’s word is the seed. Is that seed growing and bearing fruit? There are beautiful Christians whose lives are like Lisa’s garden, bountiful with the life of the Spirit and there are those who are nearly fruitless. Jesus’ story gives us a clue about why. “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Luke 8:5-8, NLT) We could conclude, from Jesus’ story, that the growth depends on circumstances beyond our control. Reading it that way misses the point. He is asking us to consider the state of our heart and mind towards the Word of God!
Each one of us is receiving the ‘seed of the Word’ and we create a place for it with the choices we make. Jesus is not just talking about the first hearing of the Gospel. His story is about how we accept and tend the Word of God in the garden of our life. When the Spirit speaks to me today, where will that ‘seed’ fall? When I pick up the Scripture to study it, what kind of reception will those words find in me?
Jesus explained his parable. “This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God. The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won’t believe and be saved. “The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn’t go very deep. It’s only another fad, and the moment there’s trouble it’s gone. “And the seed that fell in the weeds—well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun. “But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.” (Luke 8:11-15, The Message)
- Will I have a heart as hard as a well-traveled footpath, one that refuses His Word? Will my preconceptions, prejudice, or pride prevent the Word from germinating in me?
- Will I have a heart that is only superficially concerned with spiritual matters? Will I confine my reflection and prayers to issues of self-interest? When the Word challenges me to deep change or leads me to a place of transformation, will I choose to lose myself in diversions and pleasures so that the first response is lost?
- Will I have a heart that is ungoverned, a weed patch of competing concerns and interests? Will I get so distracted by my daily responsibilities in this temporal world that the Word cannot find a way to grow in me? When I pray, or serve, or read the Bible will my mind be cluttered with thoughts about work, plans, people?
- Or, will I have a heart that is carefully prepared, ready to receive, cultivated with regular and faithful practices of spiritual disciplines that invite the Spirit’s nurture which is like sun and water to a garden?
Everybody loves the produce of a well-tended garden, don’t they? But, fewer want the hours of labor in the sun that keep the soil fertile and make it fruitful! We are spoiled by our markets where we can go and pick up a beautiful piece of fruit for a couple of bucks. We tend to think that we get spiritual fruit in the same way; buying a book, attending a seminar, enjoying another’s spirituality vicariously. But, real and lasting fruit, beautifully whole lives in the Spirit, result from daily gardening!
Is your life a fruitful place bountiful with the life of God’s Spirit? Are you growing in His grace, receiving the Word, listening, learning, obeying? Jesus says the key is relationship that is ongoing! Here is a word from the Word. “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.” (John 15:4-5, The Message)
There’s nothing worth more that will ever come close
No thing can compare You’re our living hope
I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
In Your Presence Lord
Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord
(Your Presence Lord)
(Oh God how we love Your Presence Lord)
Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness (Lord)
Bryan Torwalt | Katie Torwalt
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