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How does your garden grow? Mark 4.1-20

A plant emerging from just a speck of a seed is rather amazing to me – one might even call it miraculous. O, I s’pose I haven’t always been a gardener… was 30ish when I planted my first rosebush and a part of me became obsessed right then with what God and I might do together. To snip and gather a colorful, lacy bouquet of English roses from my very own garden was nothing less than glorious. Then I learned the value of buying Kellogg’s soils and amendments, worm castings and the like. Crazy to be sure if I weren’t crazed with the possibilities. Hmmm…


I jumped into a garden workshop a couple weeks back at a nearby nursery on growing vegetables and herbs from seeds. It all seems so simple until you do it and those seeds don’t sprout! I learned a few tricks and found out that it was soil plus some preparation and treatment of that soil that made all the difference in what happened to the seed. Yes, I even purchased my first grow lights!

As we turn the page in our Bibles to Mark chapter four, Jesus tells a parable – a story using that which is familiar to teach a deeper spiritual truth. Now, if you and I were to sidle up to the place where Jesus was teaching from a boat, it is all quite interesting. Right there on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, sometimes called the Bay of Parables, a natural amphitheatre formed on the hillside and the sound carried to all the folks gathered to hear Jesus.

Jesus starts by saying, ‘Listen to this…’ and then he draws his listeners in by talking about a sower who goes out to sow some seed, and then describes what happens to that seed depending on what kind of soil it landed on. Many of us have heard this story before, and we understand that the soil is representative of our own hearts; we might even say that Jesus describes four states of the human soul. Dang.

Let’s go back to my packages of arugula seeds. [Arugula, you ask? Yes, those are my favorite lettuce greens. I consume a lot of salad, because well, let’s just say it agrees with me and I with it. So, given the chance to purchase seeds, of course, arugula and Velvet sunflower seeds were my two top picks. The seeds that I sowed in good soil, but put out in my upraised flower beds outside did nothing. However, the seeds I brought inside, gave some light and added warmth…voila, they have sprouted! The seeds were the same, the condition of the soil is what changed.

Jesus described the soil/hearts of those who heard the gospel as four different types: 1) hardened soil—people who just were not interested in the truth; 2) rocky soil—a little grass on top of rock. Fickle hearts that just flee when trouble comes…

3) thorny ground – gospel seeds start to grow/truth is attractive, but it is soon choked out or rather crowded out by other priorities. Those of us who are always on again, off again. Oh, we believe but we just can’t really commit…just can’t go all in. I guess you could say a preoccupied, half-hearted believer.

4) good soil – this is the mind that trusts the decision of the heart and soul, wants all that the Giver of the Gospel is willing to sow and dispense, all the growth one can hold. By analogy, this is the good soil where my arugula seeds were sown—prepared, ready to receive, ready to grow and to flourish.

There is nothing like being a growing, thriving believer, solidly planted in the truth of God, supported by other grow-ers who want the same thing.

Just wondering—how does your garden grow?


The Footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, 14

"By the Spirit" Pat Barrett:

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