I’m no green thumb, but I like to plant trees. I suppose it was because my dad worked for the Forest Service when I was growing up. I had no idea he was an accountant. To me, he was Smokey the Bear. (Little did I know that it was because he was the only one in the office that would agree to put on that suit and come out to the schools, back in the day.) Occasionally he’d bring home some trees and plant them in the yard, and then over the years he’d walk out to them on a nice day and survey them.
A few years back a friend of mine brought the camp fifteen red tip photinias. My son and I planted them along the fence here at camp in hopes that they would one day create a hedge and some privacy for retreat guests meeting in our new Creation Station that was near the road. Five years later these have grown over 10’ and are making a really nice hedge…all except one.
One of these fifteen plants just never has grown. The ones on the right and left just a few feet away literally tower over this dwarf. I’ve put fertilizer around it, killed ant beds near it, and pruned it all to no avail.
I’ve asked professional nurserymen and even my dad about this plant, and the suspicion is that it just has bad soil. Can you imagine that? Bad soil in this small area even though the plants on each side of it are thriving.
Jesus told a parable about soil once. He said there were four types of soil that the farmer threw seed upon. Three of them had serious problems and never produced a crop. Just one of the soils received the seed of the Word of God and produced a crop.
We see examples of this all the time. Kids can grow up in the same home with many of the same influences and yet one will follow the Lord and another will turn away. Two people can hear the same message with God’s call for salvation and one will accept this word and another will reject it.
How about you? What kind of soil do you have? Based on Jesus’ words in Mark 4, here are ways you can guard against a failed crop and enrich your soil:
- Be on your guard against the devil’s schemes (Mark 4:15). We really do have an adversary in the devil. He likes to snatch the seed of God’s Word from the hearer. Ephesians 6:10-18 is a great passage to turn to and learn about God’s armor that is provided for you to take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
- Develop deep roots (Mark 4:16-17). Jesus says that the person with this second type of soul soil will fall away when persecution and trouble come because of the Word. Note Jesus says when and not if trouble and persecution come. You can develop deep roots with the recipe given in Psalm 1: don’t walk with the wicked and meditate on God’s Word day and night!
- Avoid the big three temptations of worry, wealth, and ungodly desire (Mark 4:18-19). On worry, Jesus said worrying can’t add a single hour to your life. On money, He said if you’ll store up your treasures in heaven they can’t be stolen or destroyed by moth and rust. On desire, Jesus said to seek His kingdom and his righteousness first and all these other things will be added to you.
I want to produce a crop for the Lord and I suspect you do too. We’ll both do well to guard ourselves in the above three areas and then fertilize our soil by reading God’s Word and obeying it, talking to Him through prayer and gathering with the church.