Jesus talks in Mark 4 about four different kinds of soil. I roll my eyes initially because if you’ve heard one sermon about this passage, you’ve heard them all.
But in my life right now, this is very real. My life is soil. My faith is a seed. My confidence and deep trust in the Lord, HIs faithfulness, and pursuit of me is a seed that seems deeply rooted at times and completely lifeless in others.
Sometimes my life feels like the path that Jesus describes – my faith feels like it’s getting trampled, like it’s only surface level, like it is dry and dying. Other times it feels like my life is like the rocky soil and my faith is like a seed that sprouted but has no longevity. I went hiking a few weeks ago up to the Royal Arch and up on the rocks I saw this little tree that was literally growing out of a rock. Its roots must have been nonexistent… but yet there it grew. Sometimes my faith feels just like that little tree, that it grows in places where it has little nourishment or chance to grow. However, I have no idea how long that tree can live like that. I have no idea how long my faith might keep growing if I have no ability to sink in deep roots. Yet sometimes my faith is totally amidst the thorns that Jesus talks about. Some people describe it as “thorny soil,” but let’s get real – thorns are’t in soil. They are found on those dang stupid prickly weeds that you always need gardening gloves to pull out. Those kind of thorns are painful and pokey and harmful in every way. They are an eyesore and they suck to accidentally step on. Those are the thorns my faith experiences. When my eyes are drawn to the painful places and the harmful prickers instead of to Jesus, my faith feels suffocated. My belief becomes a survival mechanism instead of a flourishing entity.
But good soil. Good soil is good for the soul. Yet good soil takes work. My mom has a crazy huge garden in the backyard, and every summer growing up we would borrow our neighbor’s rototiller. It was this crazy powertool that made outrageously loud noises with these reaching silver blades that looked like they might cut your legs off. But when we turned it on and started to rototill the ground, the whole texture of the soil changed. Instead of dry, winter-worn, crusty soil, you began to see deep and rich and lush soil that was being tilled from underneath. The topsy-turvy business that was happening as the machine ripped through the ground was creating life.
I feel like refinement looks a lot like that. God’s perpetual call to obedience and radical trust in places that I experience the deepest possible desire to turn and flee are like a rototiller in my life right now. I am living in the midst of Him tilling the crusty, lifeless soil into ground that can sustain life. That will produce fruit that shares life.
And even though it feels impossible and uncomfortable and tear-inducing and fear-facing and messy, I know that this is exactly where God needs me to be. Because my brokenness is the only place where my seed of faith is sown deeper that it can grow fuller and more beautiful.
Praise Jesus for that.