For the last several weeks I have been going through a deep pressing of my soul. God is wanting to get to the foundation of who I am and that will always stir a life. Discovery is never a comfortable process. This morning I read the following verses from Mark, chapter 4:
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
I used to look at this text of scripture and try to pick out which soil I represented. My hope was that I would be the fertile soil. Then something happened today as I read this parable – I realized that I had all four soil types on my spiritual farm.
In the last 60 years I have accumulated a lot of spiritual acreage. Like a farmer in the natural realm, we work different parts of a large land holding based on the needs of each particular soil type. For those of you thinking I am copping out to having sin in my life, I am not. I love God, love my wife and don’t want anyone to die because they crossed me. I repent daily and make heart adjustments. But maybe at age 60 I am finally realizing that I don’t have it all together all the time and I need to understand what that means. This is the pressing that comes in times of intense spiritual formation.
As I look at my life I see places that used to be fertile ground where I have allowed other things access to and they have beaten a hard path across my once fertile field. I look at another section of my life where I have allowed myself to become shallow by seeking the dim and lesser things of this world. Nothing lasts long in that patch. The third parcel of my spiritual life is overgrown with thorns and I feel their choking influence as I become consumed with the “what ifs” of life. And finally, and thank God for this, there still remains patches of fertile soil from which I can compare all the others and demand that they yield to the fertility of His presence.
For the places I have allowed hardened footpaths to develop I need to limit access to who and what crosses my field. For the shallow places where I failed to go deeper, I need to allow God to take me into that ground and deal with any fear or shame that might arise on the way to freedom. For the thorn-infested places I need to pull these things up by their roots and not settle for a weed-whacker form of Christianity. And for those places of fertile soil I need to ask God how it became fertile in the first place and do more of that kind of work in all the other areas of my spiritual farm.
If you are like me, and going through a time of intense spiritual formation, God is wanting to do a work of fertility within you. To prepare the field of our lives for the supernatural seeds of His Kingdom, God needs to show us the condition of our soil and those images are not always pretty. From the parable of the sower we see that God is secure enough to throw some of His precious seed into the fields of my life that are not yet ready, and through the painful process of death and resurrection of that seed, He will create in us a heart that is fertile and inviting to His presence.