Monday, July 17, 2017

Moving from Accedintal Gardener to Soil Specialist

"The Sower" by Vincent van Gogh

"...But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." (Mt 13:8)

Real gardeners may cringe at this confession, but for the past couple of years I've been randomly jamming plants into my designated space at my sister-in-law's community garden. 

With no real idea of what I'm doing--other than digging up the plot, watering along the way, and trying to keep up with the weeds--I go through the growing season with a hidden hope that something will bear fruit. One year the tomatoes went crazy; another year it was the cucumbers. Lately it's been the weeds!

I often wonder about the metaphor of this experience in relation to the journey of Christian discipleship: Am I being accidental or intentional in my effort to bear fruit for the Lord? Am I putting in the necessary work to ensure that my soul resembles the rich soil which the Sower is looking for? Do I have a plan for identifying and uprooting the weeds which threaten from different directions?

Perhaps most importantly, am I willing to serve as a co-worker with the Sower, who continues his work for the salvation of souls? Risen and Present, Jesus Christ roams through the garden of his creation, liberally scattering seeds of the Kingdom of Heaven in the hopes that they produce a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Here and now.

But he needs our help, or at least our invitation to let him help us. Jesus forces no one to embrace and cultivate Eternal Life, and he will even help us work the soil of our souls--if only we ask. The Lord knows that no one wants to live a fruitless existence, but he waits for us to ask for help in unearthing the rocks and pulling the thorns and breaking up those well-trodden paths that stifle the growth of the Kingdom.

The Sower longs for co-workers who are willing to embrace this apprenticeship. The Lord will provide for the growth, as long as we show up each day with a plan to say "Yes" to our labor in the vineyard.

With a hoe full of humility and enough faith to fertilize our respective mission fields, we can become soil specialists who will help cultivate an eternal produce--for the greater glory of God.

"Whoever has ears out to hear." (Mt 13:9)