Between some rocks and a hard place


I had a revelation yesterday. I’m like Soil No. 2.

Many of us are familiar with Jesus’ most famous parable. The word of God (seed) came to four different kinds of people (soils). The first kind of person hears the word but doesn’t understand it (like seed falling on a path).

The second hears the word and quickly receives it and starts to grow. The problem is troubles and persecutions come and, like a small plant growing in rocky soil, the person gives up and starts to wither.

The third person hears the word and begins growing, but the worries and cares of life come and stunt the plant’s growth, making it unfruitful.

The fourth person hears the word, holds on to it, and through perseverance produces fruit.

I’ve always read this parable believing that deep down, I’m Soil No. 4.

So maybe I’m going through a rough patch, having a hard time retaining God’s word and producing a crop (Soil No. 1), or maybe I’m a little distracted by the worries and cares of life (Soil No. 3), but hey — I’m still a Christian, aren’t I? I haven’t abandoned my faith.

And I have never experienced real persecution, never been to jail or threatened with death, so obviously Soil No. 2 is out.

Until yesterday.

I was listening to a sermon and it hit me, I’m Soil No. 2.

I’ve been living overseas for more than five years now. When I first came I had stars in my eyes and was full of energy, hopes and dreams.

In the years since some of that zeal has been lost.  Like that old Gospel song goes, “I’ve been lied to, cheated, talked about, mistreated…”

Let me tell you, that sort of thing can really take it out of you.

There are other things, too. The practical side of life can be more difficult here. Cooking is harder, driving is more dangerous and speaking Russian is still a big challenge for me.

And since I’m making a list, sometime there is a part of me deep inside that begins to wonder if all the sacrifice is worth it. I mean, what am I really doing here anyway?

As the pastor was preaching I realized that these are “troubles” and “persecutions” that can cause me to give up.

And as the Holy Spirit went deep inside, judging the thoughts and intents of my heart, I realized that part of me had given up. Like Soil No. 2.

I realized that Soil No. 2 isn’t just a person who renounces his or her faith in front of a firing squad. It’s deeper than that. Sometimes we can start to keep up appearances, but inside, where it really counts, our faith is failing. We are holding our breath. We are stuck wondering if life is turning out like we thought it would when we gave our life to God.

This morning I decided to cry out to God about it. I asked the Lord to give me His life again — through His word. I started to feel something change, but I’m going to keep crying out.

So what about you? What Soil are you?

Maybe you’ve heard about Jesus but don’t understand why He had to die. After all, you’re a pretty good person, right? Soil No. 1. You haven’t really understood God’s word yet.

Maybe you’re like me and part of you is giving up. Soil No. 2. 

Or maybe you know God’s word is important, but when you’re honest with yourself, you kow you get more excited about watching a movie, getting a new job or making a better life for yourself. Soil No. 3. 

The Good News is that when we recognize where we are at isn’t where we want to be, we can turn away from our sin and ask God to change us.

“Sin?” you might ask. Yes, sin. Soil No. 1 — unbelief/stubbornness. Soil No. 2 — double-mindedness. Soil No. 3 — idolatry.

In turning away from these sins, we can turn to a God who is gracious.

As the Scripture says,

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)

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