I continue to be wrecked by the words of the Lord Jesus. I’m so convicted when I blow past those red letters because “I know this…heard it my whole life.” Or so I think. The plan I’m on for reading through the Word this year has be reading chronologically, so when I read about the parable of the sower and the seed (today’s reading), for example, I’m reading it in each Gospel that recounts it. The fact that I’m getting Matthew’s, Mark’s , and Luke’s accounts of the same event forces me to stop and think about it, when I’m running ahead in my mind.
So today when I read this parable that I’ve read and heard preached so many times, I found myself going through my checklist. Here’s what I mean: Well, I’m not the one that the birds snatched away the seed. I’m not the one that fell on stony ground, sprang up quick, then burned up. I’m not the one sown among thorns…”
That’s the one that stopped me. Read this with me:
“Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4: 18-19)
You see, I always want to assume I’m the “good soil” that Jesus speaks of last. I’m the kind of soil that produces the good fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold! I like to skip to that part. But today, I was absolutely stopped dead in my tracks by verses 18-19. Folks, the cares of this world weigh heavy on me. I find myself worrying about so much, in spite of the fact that Jesus plainly said not to! And the deceitfulness of riches…don’t even get me started! Does anyone ever have enough? In the back of my mind always seems to be the question “do we have enough money for this?”
And then there’s the clincher: the desire for other things. Look at our culture. It’s entirely driven by consumerism. How many days am I thinking about “do I have enough to buy this? or that?” Or what about that car? Could I afford that? I get consumed with looking at what I don’t have, instead of being thankful and content with what I DO have! And I have so much!!! Yet I always want more. God help me!
Notice what these things do, my friends. They “choke the word.” We are to let the Word of Christ dwell in us “richly.” His Word tells me that He is worth more than anything I can ever attain in this world. In fact, compared to Jesus, everything in this world is garbage. Does my life show that I believe that?
Here’s the cool thing, though. If we have thorns and weeds in our lives, if we’ve allowed the cares of this world to choke the Word and to choke our relationship with the Lord, He still loves us. And He’s great at gardening. Jesus said that the Father is really good at pruning, and getting the vine to grow like He wants it to. He prunes us so that we’ll bear more fruit (like the 30, 60, or 100 that I want to bear!). Now pruning isn’t fun for the vine, but the results are always better than if it’s left alone. So, if you’re a believer, and you’re feeling the pruning shears today, know that it’s just the Father’s expert hands, pruning out the bad so that you’ll grow more.