Green Thumbs and Parables

My mother-in-law makes my thumbs look green.  But they are decidedly pasty pink!  So pink, in fact, they kill aloe.  And aloe, I have been told, is very hard to kill.  Luckily for me, she knows this and she landscaped my yard for me and periodically rescues it.  I know.  I'm blessed to have such an amazing mother-in-law!  
My flower-bed makes me happy.  But I am so impatient when it comes to gardening.  "What?  You have to wait how long before the thing actually rewards you with a flower for all your hard work?  And then it dies?"  Give me a blank canvas, a boring wall, a shirt, a rug, a pillow, anything but dirt--and I can make it art.  Instant gratification is very motivating for me!  But sometimes the most important things in life have to be planted as seeds, watered continually, and even weeded.  Yes, we may even have to get our hands dirty!  Jesus, in the parable of the Sower, compared the message of the kingdom of heaven to seed.  
"...some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell in rocky places, where it did not have much soil..when the sun came up the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plant.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop..."  (Matthew 13: 3-9)
  I've read that before and it always sounded like chance to me-- you're just lucky if you're the "good soil", right?  But this is how Jesus explains what the parable means:
 "When anyone hears the message of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the seed sown along the path.  The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  The one who receives the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.  He produces a crop--yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13: 18-23)  
We decide which soil we are going to be.  My flower bed is beautiful, but if I would have used the dirt in my yard for the bed it would never have lasted this long.  In fact we not only had to buy many, many bags of top soil, we also had to rent a jack-hammer to break up slabs of cement that would have prevented the plants from establishing a strong root system!  We worded hard, I'm tellin' ya!  When we hear the message of Jesus, he expects us to cultivate it--to make sure the soil is good and deep.  And we do this by studying the word of God--the Bible.  The good soil is the man who "hears the word and understands it."  When we read the word of God and pray for understanding God promises to give it to us!  And then that seed begins to bloom and multiply over and over again...

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