According to my calendar, spring is just a few days away. But looking out my window here in Wisconsin, it seems like it will be months before all this snow melts and we see green grass and leaves popping out again. This was a long, snow-filled winter for us here in the Badger State.
New-fallen snow CAN be a beautiful thing . . . back in December, right around Christmas time it's beautiful. But now? I just want the stuff to die. Be gone! Melt already, would ya?!?
There's a lot of yucky, dead stuff hidden under the snow right now. My wife and I bought the lot for our house in the winter time. It looked so beautiful! When the snow melted in the spring we found the ground covered with beer cans, newspapers, pieces of plastic, cigarette butts . . . quite a list of wretched refuse.
After the snow finally gives way to the warmer temperatures, things begin to grow around here. We live where there are lots of pine trees and oaks. Each spring there are lots of new little seedlings in our yard. Some sprout up in the most unusual places.
I've seen plants growing in the gutters on our house. That doesn't speak too well of my outdoor yard skills. I've seen pine trees work their way out of cracks in our sidewalk and in our paved driveway. I've even seen and oak tree growing up out of a dead pine tree. Weird.
The seeds that have the best chance of survival are the ones that are NOT in my way. If you're a tree and you're growing in the middle of my driveway . . . I'm sorry, but you are going to die. If you're trying to survive in my gutter, you're going out to the compost pile. You are NOT going to make it.
Sometimes people can be like that. Not that they hang out in my driveway or my gutter all the time. And I am NOT planning on chopping anyone up and burying them in the compost pile . . . THIS year. ;) But there are some people who, well, they just don't seem receptive to hearing The Gospel. It's sad.
Jesus once spoke about all kinds of people and their faith in The Parable of the Sower.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 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. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 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 13:1-9
Jesus told us how some people simply will not be interested in hearing the Gospel. As a result of their disbelief, well, they will receive what's coming to them. Sadly, they will be like the seeds eaten by the birds in the parable - never to know what it will be like to spring to true life through Jesus Christ.
Some seeds in our yard try to take root in pure sand, which we have a lot of around here. It's easy for them to sink their roots into the barren soil. They grow in the plentiful spring rain. But during the summer months, when the rains are few and the wind is plentiful, they fall over and die.
I have seen people like this too . . . every day in the mirror for most of my life. Before I came to believe, I occasionally went to church on Sunday but that's as far as my commitment to God went. The prophet Isaiah spoke what God thought of this type of faith saying,
"These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught." - Isaiah 29:1
There is one type of seed / soil condition not mentioned in the passage from Matthew. Actually, it's more like a two types in one. God is an amazing gardener. Seeds are watered and nourished according to His will. Some grow, some wither and die, and some, like me, get transplanted.
My faith in my younger years was like a seed laying dormant under barren, arid soil. It never sprouted. It never took root. Then one day God stirred up the soil. He placed me, that dormant seed, into more fertile soil. He provided "water and nourishment" through a friend at work. And I finally came to life. And I grew!
Everywhere we go in this life we encounter seeds sown by God onto various types of soil. Some of these seeds grow amazingly well where they are planted. Others wither and die. And some struggle to survive. They don't get enough water. Their soil doesn't have enough nutrients in it to produce growth. So, what do we do when we encounter these seedlings who struggle on their own. Like I did.
The answer is all around us. Perhaps you have seen it wherever you are. Question: Do you usually see pine trees standing all by themselves? Or do you tend to see them in groups? Actually, if you look, most pine trees are found in groups. Do you know why? They support each other when the storms come. They hold on to each other when the strong winds blow. And so should it be with us.
I encourage you to come along side someone like my friend did for me. Make a difference in someones life. Take an interest in a struggling teen. You see, we too are seed planters. Examples really. We are a lighthouse shining out to sea. Our bright light may be annoying to some, but to a ship lost in a storm it can be life saving.
YOU can make a difference in someone's life. Someone did that for me. Someone probably did that for you. Pass it on! Do what Jesus commanded us to do - "Go and make disciples." God will be glad you did.
"My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." - James 5:19-20
Seed Germination Time Lapse