“A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. – Matthew 13:3-8
It’s been a long, busy, wild summer. Mission trip to Nicaragua. 5 weeks of weeklong Summer Bible Clubs from various mission teams. Thousands of water balloons blown up and thrown. Countless magic shows, it seems like. 221 backpacks handed out. 100 shoes. Our golf scramble fundraiser last Friday. It’s been one thing after another after another. It makes for one very busy yet very productive summer.
But, in all honesty, it’s been a summer of great frustration for me. In the midst of all the summer activities and all the “stuff” required to run this ministry, the parable of the sower has been running through my mind. It seems like so many of the kids I’ve been walking with and discipling over years, as they get older and reach their upper high school years and beyond tend to fall off, mess up, lose contact, repeat the mistakes of their parents, etc. This summer has seemed like that to me more than ever. I’ve had several of my college-aged kids get arrested, drop out of school, get pregnant, do drugs, quit jobs, etc. over just the past 3 or 4 months. It’s been tough. The soil where I’ve sown seed has been way too rocky.
The goal of this ministry is to help kids raised in poverty discover their self worth, that they are loved and created by a God who has great plans and opportunities for them. And that because of this, they really do have a hope and a future. That they don’t have to repeat the mistakes of family members, that cycles of poverty, teen pregnancies, absentee fathers, abuse and drugs can and will stop with them. That’s the goal. Sometimes, I feel like I’m making progress. Other times, I feel like I don’t. Jesus explains why that its when he explains the parable of the sower later in Matthew 13:
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
I run into most of those soils on a daily basis – all but the good soil. It’s rare. Life in poverty makes it tough to grow spirtitual seeds. There’s lots of worries of the day. Lots of turmoil. Lots of birds swooping in to steal. And its frustrating. I know my job is to scatter the seeds. But I also have a job to work that soil. To strengthen it. To do battle against the weeds and birds and rocks. To help roots dig deep.
And my prayer is that this school year, I’ll find more and more good soil. I want to see the seeds take root and grow, and produce more and more life around them. That’s my prayer. That’s my hope.