Sunday, July 16, 2017
By Lauren Gaffey
One of the things I love about spring and summer is spending time in my garden. I love waiting for daffodils to emerge in the spring and feeling the relief that winter is finally on its way out. I love planting annuals and adding an instant burst of color to the yard. I love that my kids will join me on a “garden walk,” where we go look to see what is blooming today. I love the way the garden looks different every week as some plants bloom just as others fade a bit.
In the Gospels for the next two weeks, Jesus tells his disciples parables in which he likens the Kingdom of God to a field. In the first parable, on July 16, the seed is the word of God and we are the soil in which it is sown. We can choose how we receive it, and how we live it out in the world. The parable on July 23 talks about a good sower and an evil sower who each plant seeds in a field. The good seeds are those who live as true disciples and bear good fruit through our lives.
When we hear the parable of the sower, we know we want to be the good, rich soil. We want to be the person who “hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” But we also know that there are times in life when we may be more like the other types of soil. Perhaps we are the seed sown on the path “who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it” if we hear Jesus tell us to serve the “least of our brothers and sisters,” but we don’t live this out. We might be the seed sown among thorns when we allow our desire for more money, or prestige, or power, to become more important than our desire to follow Christ. But the good news is that God is always giving the seeds of our faith more opportunities to grow.
I have learned that most plants have a certain resiliency and determination to grow. Several years ago I asked my aunt (a master gardener) how to tell which direction to plant a tulip bulb. She showed me the top and bottom, but then said “but even if you plant it the wrong direction, it will figure out which way is up and grow anyway.” I loved this! Not only did it mean I didn’t have to worry about being perfect in my planting, but I loved the idea of my beloved little tulip stem beginning its growth heading straight down, only to do a U-turn and head back to the surface.
This image of plant starting out heading in the wrong direction until it finally figures out which way it should go fits perfectly with my faith life. Sometimes I strike out, confident of what I am doing, only to hear a quiet whisper, or a gentle nudging from God to change direction. That whisper may be in the form of my husband challenging me to look at a situation from someone else’s perspective. The nudge may come from a feeling of restlessness when I haven’t spent much quiet time allowing God to creep in amidst the busyness.
My hope is that I can be like that tulip in the garden in that, even if I start out in the wrong direction, I can eventually make my way toward the fullness of a deep relationship with God that lets me bear fruit in the world “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”