I have a question for you; Hows your personal soil? Anyone that has done any sort of gardening or farming knows that your soil is the foundation which more often than not will determine the outcome of your crop. You can have the best seed ever, plant it into poor soil and your yield will be small. Plant marginal quality seed into deep, nutrient rich soil and your likely to have a bumper crop. In certain parts of the country, like where I live, in the mountains, our soil quality is actually quite good. Unfortunately we have to contend with bedrock which makes growing crops challenging, even with great soil.
Your probably wondering where I”m going with all this talk of Soil, and soil quality benefits. No, this is not a farming article in the sense you may think it is. I mean to use the discussion of soil quality in a parable format like a great teacher more than 2,000 years ago did. I fancy myself as a farmer, and hopefully a fairly full time one day in the future. The truth is, I don’t know nearly what I need to know, and will learn that over time. I surely do enjoy time out in the field on a tractor!
If we were to segment out growing and soil conditions, it would safe to say there are four different types of growing conditions farmers must deal with.
First would be rocky ground that is more like bedrock. This is often what we have to work with in my neck of the woods. Growing under these types of soil conditions is nearly impossible. Unless you intend on growing rock moss there will be intense struggles to grow any vegetations on bedrock. Imagine sewing seeds on bedrock for a moment. You may set seeds on the rock, but when the first windstorm comes up your seed will leave it’s original place. Or, your seed may fall victim to a bird looking for a healthy snack. Growing on bedrock is just not a winning proposition.
The second soil quality we will discuss is shallow soil. Shallow soil would be defined as a small layer of top soil with a rocky or bedrock layer underneath. One can plant in shallow soil conditions if they so choose. Shallow soil has some small benefits. Bedrock has a natural tendency to hold in warmth far past the time the sun goes down. Seeds need two basic things to sprout; warmth and water. Bedrock provides a nice added heat benefit other soils can’t provide. However, these benefits will be short lived once the plant has sprouted. Shallow soil provides poor water drainage, and eventually that excess heat will scorch the roots, disable the plants roots from seeking deeper soil, and eventually the plant will die. For someone trying to grow a crop, shallow soil is not the way to go either.
Our third soil type would be a crowded field. A crowded field is one that has not been worked and cultivated for some time. Crowded fields have many of the right conditions for successful crop success. However they require a lot of work. A crowded field by nature is full of weeds and may be lacking in nutrients that vegetable crops might require. If you have any experience planting in these fields, you know that seeds have a very very hard time competing with weeds. Weeds are pesky. Weeds have this annoying way of choking out your planted crop, they steal nutrients and moisture from your soil, and they have this pesky way of coming back time and time again after you attempt to pluck them from your soil. Growing in a field overgrown with weeds is a very trying proposition, and will not ever yield a bumper crop.
Lastly we have the soil type that every farmer dreams of having. Deep, dark, nutrient rich soil. In some parts of the United States, like Iowa for example, farmers may pay in excess of $16,000 an acre for top quality land with this described soil type! Why would raw land be so expensive? This soil type carries the pinnacle of qualities, and gives one the very best odds of having a highly successful yield. Seeds do not have to compete with weeds for moisture or nutrients. Seeds will not be tortured with the inability to create deep roots (from bedrock) that will sip water far below the surface and thrive even in drought like conditions.
So what if we looked at these four soil conditions as our lives being the soil? After all, we were placed on this earth to grow something!
Is your life and surroundings like bedrock? Do you have a hard time growing anything for yourself? When you are given “seed” (we will call this opportunity now) does that seed of opportunity quickly blow away in the changing tides of the winds? I would like to suggest that your growing, or life condition is what inhibits you have baring fruit! You can not, I repeat, can not, plant seed (opportunity) on bedrock and expect it to make fruit. If YOU as the seed can not seem to bare the fruit you want, perhaps you need to look at the “soil” you’ve planted YOURSELF in? Maybe your “bedrock” is the wrong influences (friends or family), maybe your bedrock is the wrong career, maybe your “bedrock” is your poor choices in habits? Thats for you to assess; I’m just a silly writer with some borrowed parables attempting to get you thinking. Jesus knew a thing or two about trying to grow on bedrock. In the book of Mark, Jesus said: “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.” Mark 4:15 The path, in biblical times, referred to the rocky paths farmers had built in between their more fertile fields.
Is your history one of being able to START something great, but not finishing it? Have you built something of significance, but unable to see it thru to the end and it failed? We’ve all heard of the “one hit wonder” or the “person with five minutes of fame.” We’ve all been there. If you fit this scenario, your “seed” (YOU) is good, you just chose the wrong soil to plant yourself in. I too once “planted myself” in shallow soil. My “shallow soil” was a business opportunity that almost sounded “too good to be true.” But, hey, quick legal profits were to be made. I had no long term thinking about if this “soil” could continuously bare fruit or not. As soon as the seed grew, it surely died. My soil was shallow. Our country suffers from the third highest divorce rate in the world. Depending on who’s figures you believe, somewhere between 50-60% of all marriages end in divorce today. This is very very sad. Unfortunately many a marriages were planted in shallow soil. Their “soil” was one of lust, not love. Their soil was one without the true type of commitment it takes to make a marriage work. Their shallow soil resulted in divorce; the very thing no couple at the alter thinks will happen to them. In the book of Mark, Jesus uses this very parable of soil conditions to describe the shallow soil. He said: Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 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. Mark 4:16-17 It sounds like Jesus knew a thing or two about farming here..
Maybe you’ve tried to plant yourself among weeds and thorns. You have attempted to plant your personal seed in an area that is crowded and will fight for the very nutrients YOU will need to succeed. Often times that “crowding” is oppressive personalities where you do not have the opportunity to reach your full potential. Maybe that oppressive person is a “friend” or a boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe your “field of thorns” is a misguided outlook on your end goal. Is your “fruit” being wealthy or having material riches that you earn under any condition? You have one seed to plant on this earth. Why oh why would you let it be choked out in a crowded and unclean soil? Jesus described crowded soil in Mark 4:18-19 like this: Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Does this describe elements of your life? If so, maybe you need to re-examine your soil.
Lastly is the soil condition we should all strive to plant ourselves in. The deep, fertile, nutrient rich soil is what will bare us fruit on this earth, and after it. Seek this soil for yourself. This soil will provide you a “bumper crop” year after year. Jesus best described this soil type in Mark 4:20 : Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop–thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
Produce a crop thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown…. Thats what Jesus said when you plant in fertile “soil.” I don’t know about you, but I want to have a crop like that! We all have the opportunity to plant ourselves in this type of soil; we just have to be discerning, focused on god first, and seeking HIS desires for us. Focus on the qualities of your “soil”, your roots will go deep and you’ll produce an incredible crop on this earth, and leave behind a legacy.