After reading Luke 8.4-15, I spent some time thinking about the different types of soil depicted in this parable of Jesus. The soil represents the hearts of different people and the seed represents the Word of God. So what the parable is seeking to communicate is that, depending on the state of a persons heart, there are multiple responses to the Word of God. The first response is that of the 'hard soil', the hardened heart, much like that of Pharaoh in the Exodus story. They hear the Word of God but there is no reception of it, it does not penetrate their heart at all and it is quickly removed by satan. The second response is that of the 'rocky soil', the heart that is quick to both receive and abandon the Word of God. The heart is, on the surface, soft and open to the Word, but in its core the heart is still hardened and there is not enough 'fertile soil' in the heart to truly grasp on to the Word. The third response is that of the 'thorn-choked soil', the heart that is distracted by the things of life and cannot bear fruit because of that distraction. The fourth response is that of the 'good soil', the heart that has been fully prepared to receive the Word of God. This heart is honest, patient, and bears good fruit.
Thinking about these different types of 'soil' I began to try and examine my own heart, which 'soil' is my heart made out of. Now naturally I assumed that my heart was full of the good kind, the kind that receives the Word with honesty and focus and bears fruit, lots of it. But the more I thought about it, and the more God opened my eyes....and my heart, the more I realized that I'm the third kind of soil, the thorn-choked kind.
I am easily distracted by the stuff of life: TV, video games, friends, naps, taxes, bills, even youth ministry. None of those things are inherently bad, but when they are the things that I allow to keep me from cultivating a heart ready to be used by God then they become bad things. They will eventually choke me out and that won't be pretty, I'll be on my back gasping for air wondering 'How did I get here!?' It's the slippery slope of mediocrity and lukewarmness. I recently re-heard an old quote, 'good is the enemy of great'; that settling for decent, mediocre, or good is the enemy of perseverance, drive, and greatness. I'm reminded of the athletes that possess true God-given talent who waste it because they settle, they have no drive for greatness, no perseverance. We watch their careers, or lack thereof, and wonder what could have been...especially when your favorite team blows a high draft pick on them...cough, Charles Rogers. I'm also reminded of the those athletes who are born with the same ridiculous natural talent but who also have the drive and desire to be great, those players we praise our teams for drafting (see Calvin Johnson).
I want to have that drive and that desire to be great, I don't want to settle for a thorn-choked heart. I want my heart to be full of 'great soil' the kind God can use over and over and over again. But I know that the process of removing the thorns is going to suck, because if I'm honest a part of me still likes those thorns. Sure they're sharp, uncomfortable and sinful, but they're home, I know them and they know me. And it's hard to say goodbye to a place that's been home for years, even if it was a stinky place to be.
If I want the 'good soil', and I do, I'm going to have to get over my bizarre comfort with where I am. I'm going to have to let go and push on through the thorns so God can begin to work on my heart and cultivate that soil.