Parable of the Soil

Isaiah 55:10-13

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the LORD,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Matthew 13

The Parable of the Sower

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

The Parable of the Soil

by Shawn Hazel

Once upon a time there was a patch of dirt, just a piece of dirt between here and there, not at the center of a great farm field or paved as a street, just dirt.  The dirt watched many people come and go, they never came to see the dirt it was just their way of getting somewhere they wanted to be.  “I’m never their destination,” thought the dirt.  “I’m only a step along the road to get to somewhere else.”  Constantly tread upon, the patch of dirt got used to the footprints pressed into his patch as one after another would come, leave their mark and then hurry on to wherever they were going.

Below the ground the worms kept a similar regimen.  “Hello worms,” Patch would say but they were so busy munching they didn’t stop to talk.  “I’m just a meal ticket,” thought the dirt and sighed as they made their way through.  The dirt began to believe that his sole purpose was only as a means to an end, “I guess that’s all I’ll ever be is just a patch of dirt for walking through and eating through.”

Occasionally Patch was surprised to find something left on the top.  It wasn’t a footprint and it wasn’t a worm but it didn’t smell good.  Someone had thrown their trash on him.  Fruit cores, napkins, even a dead animal, it wasn’t pleasant at all and it took forever for those things to stop smelling and often they would just make their way into his dirt and become a part of him.

Patch began to consider the he was more than just a passageway for those in a rush.  People and worms would pass through but if anything did end up on his patch it apparently would be trash.  Patch was the end of the line, the place where things came to stop, permanently, and unfortunately they weren’t very talkative either.

Patch began to harangue the nearby plants.  He made fun of the size and shape of the feet that stepped across his face.  The doom of being stepped on became his game.  The fact that he was food to be used up by the worms had him pressing them for a review of their menu.  He made the dirt patchs surrounding him feel is if they were missing something if the trash wasn’t dumped on them.  All in all he wasn’t happy at all.   It wasn’t a good feeling, and he fought the fear that this was his lot in life but more days now he lost the battle in his head and began to believe that he had just better get used to the idea.

One day Patch discovered something new, it was a hot day and his dirt was loose and dusty and people seemed more in a rush than usual as they quickly cut through his patch until two stopped on him in a huff.  It was a heated discussion, they yelled, they rubbed their feet into his face and pointed their fingers at each other, Patch just listened but what caught his ear was the last words, “you are lower than dirt, you know that!?” and with a kick of dirt on the other the two parted.  “Lower than dirt,” Patch was excited, there something beneath me, less the me, worse than me!  How great is that!?”

This kept Patch’s mood higher than usual; for awhile.  The most troubling thought for Patch was a certain sneaking suspicion, a seed of a thought, a dust mote of hope in the very corner of his patch that he had held onto through the endless years of misuse and abuse, it was the inkling of a thought that possibly, just maybe, Patch thought,  “I could be something more.”

One day a seed was thrown into his patch and he thought this could be it.  The seed got pressed and pushed and eventually made its way into his patch.  Patch watched it grow with amazement!  It didn’t pass through, it didn’t rot, it had a life of it’s own and it grew, very fast.  In fact, although the plant could have dug it’s roots deep into the dirt it’s roots were shallow and it grew very fast, almost as if it were in a rush like the people passing by.  It didn’t talk to Patch instead it was constantly looking around at the people as they shuffled by.  When they did, it went diving for them and reaching for them.  Whenever it managed to get under a foot the person would shout “Ouch!” and pull a seed from their foot where the thorny kernel had pierced their skin.  Patch watched in sadness as the plant seemed to take pleasure in causing pain until one day a person stopped pulled the thorn out and pulled the weed from his patch.

“Maybe it’s better to be alone,” Patch pondered, “maybe it’s better not to be a destination where painful things thrive and others come to die.  Maybe it’s time to take that tiny mote of hope that I’d been holding onto and just let it go when the next wind blows.”  Patch didn’t notice the foot on him now.  It was so normal so typical, just another foot passing through.  But this one stopped and a lot of other people stopped.  They weren’t moving on, they weren’t hurrying, they were all surrounding Patch and looking at him.

“Jesus, what do you mean when you talk about the soil?”  said one of them as they looked at the person who was stooping next to me.

And then He spoke, a voice like no other, it made Patch’s dirt vibrate along with Him.  And whenever He said “soil” it made him think he’d gotten a new name, a good name, a name that Patch wanted to hold onto.  In fact it appeared that Jesus liked dirt; there was so much dirt on His feet.

Patch listened as Jesus said, “The soil is helpless on it’s own.  It is changed in many ways but often we don’t think of them as good.  The soil is constantly kicked and turned over.  Worms eat through it making it the perfect place for something to grow (Patch thought of the thorn bush and shuddered).  When something rots on it, it makes the soil rich.  But the soil doesn’t make something good, the soil depends on the good to come to it.  The soil is at it’s best when the best is planted in it.”

“My Father really shines at planting,” Jesus continued, “remember the prophet Isaiah saying the trees of the fields will clap their hands, they have great joy because my Father takes care for them in surprising ways.  Isaiah says that life convinces you to expect a few things and none of them good, you are expecting thorns and briers.  Life sways you into thinking that God is treating you just like everyone else and that painful things are just His typical treatment.  But God’s surprises take time to grow.  Especially in ways you don’t notice.  God has a very good future for this soil.  Not for thorns, but as I helped Isaiah say it, instead of a thorn bush a cypress, instead of a brier a myrtle tree.”  Jesus stopped as the people started talking among themselves.

Some of them said, “the myrtle tree, isn’t that the tree that we use to make a shelter when we remember our long journey through the wilderness?”

“It’s the branches that we make our tent at the festival of the tents!” another chimed in.

Still another added, “yes and it smells so good, it’s one of my favorite trees with its dark green leaves.”

“But the cypress,” another onlooker interrupted, “is one of the trees that Solomon used to build the temple.  They grow so high they reach toward heaven.”

“One tree a shelter to the wilderness wanderers, another a timber in the dwelling place of God on earth,” said one who seemed to be taking some leadership among them, he had summed it up.

Then Jesus turned to me, to me, a patch of dirt.  He spoke to me while the others had their discussion and said, “I’ve done a lot of surprising things with dirt, I made the first human out of you, I healed a blind man’s eyes with a little dirt and spit.  And soon the dirt,” his eyes looked very thoughtful now, “will catch the blood that falls from another kind of tree on which I’ll die.  But for now I want you to know that your soil holds the seed of a cypress.  This place, with people coming and going, with footprints everywhere will soon stop here by you to rest in the shade of the tree that grows from you.  My word will do this, I have said it and it will be so, my word doesn’t come back to me empty.”  His eyes glistened as He stood up and lead the people down the road.

Pop, something happened, something changed, Patch felt something growing that he’d never experienced before it was deep in his soil.  “My word will not come back empty” echoed in Patch’s head.  All the worming paths, all the enriching rot suddenly became food for the new cypress growing because of Him.  The feet that passed now would soon find a refuge in him.  Their words in the shade of his tree would be words of joy along their journey.  Anything dropped on him now Patch welcomed with joy, though their smell never improved.  It was food for the cypress that had now burst from his soil, his patch of soil!  Even the worms listened as Patch guided them about the roots to strengthen that great gift planted in him by His Father.  Patch found himself looking up to the promise of the great things to come.  A cypress, the wood that built the dwelling place of God, Solomon’s temple, was growing in him.  Instead of a thorn, God shall make a cypress.

The End

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