Thankfully, we finally received enough moisture to plant thirty one acres of winter grazing for our Cattle for Christ herd. The land, though all in one section, is very diverse in its makeup. Half of the pasture has lain out for years and contains a lot of red clay knolls, some rocky places, washed out areas, and some bottom land with good topsoil-but grown up in briars. The remaining half is very fertile soil.
As I drilled the seed into the poorer land, I noticed that even after the soaking rain, some of the land was still so hard that the seed was left on top of the ground. In the rocky areas, most of the seed made it into the ground, but not deep enough to survive.
The good bottom land covered with briars and weeds had to be mowed before planting. The soil is good; my concern is that the briars and weeds will grow back and smother the new plants.
Finally, I planted the pastures with the really good soils. Within just three days you could see that most of the seed in these good pastures had germinated. Every day you can see new growth. The good soil of these pastures will grow and produce our best grazing.
If you are familiar with God’s Word, you know Jesus taught His disciples using this same analogy. In Jesus’ teaching however, the seed was the Gospel (the Good News of Jesus Christ), and the soils represent the conditions of our hearts and the possible responses to this Gospel; only one of which is acceptable to God. (Mark 4: 1-9, 13-20). This teaching of Jesus accurately describes the hearts of each of us and of all the people around the world to whom CCI seeks to minister and share the Gospel.
The “path” is the hard packed ground, the clay knolls, those whose hearts are so hard that they will not accept, nor do they desire anything to do with God or the things of God—they just turn away and the seed is left exposed to be eaten by the birds.
The “rocky” places are like the pasture with the shallow soil. The seed sprouted and stayed alive as long as conditions were favorable, but because it had no roots, the heat of the sun dried it up and it died having never produced or multiplied.
The “thorny” land is like our bottom land—good soil but overgrown with briars. In our culture (and in the church), this may be the most prevalent condition of our hearts. It is also the condition that we must all constantly guard against in our own lives. We can get so busy, so distracted, so in love with this world and the things of it that we do not have the time, energy, desire, or money to do God’s will. Instead, we are consumed by the things of this world that choke out or smother what the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through our lives. We have everything that we need to produce an abundant harvest for the Kingdom of God, but there is just too much stuff, too many distractions, too many briars. One day, we say, we will allow Jesus to really be Lord of our lives. We say that we love Him, it is just that right now we have too many things to do, too many goals to reach, too many bills to pay—too many “briars” get in the way of our relationship with the risen Lord.
Finally, there is the good soil where the seed is well received and almost immediately sprouts and grows rapidly, producing an abundant harvest. These are the hearts of people who not only hear the Gospel, but who hunger to know God more intimately, who crave and study His Word, and who commit their lives to doing His will. These are the ones who can truthfully say “Jesus is Lord”—not only with their lips, but with their lives.
It is not accidental that Jesus teaching involves illustrations and truths that we as farmers and ranchers actually encounter every day. You see, our God is not a far off God that we can’t know or relate to. Instead, He is a Father God who loves us individually and who draws us to Himself so that we can know Him intimately and personally. In fact, He loves you and He loves every person in the world (rich or poor, good or heathen) so much that He sent His only Son to us through the birth of the baby Jesus. He came to us as a person, in a body just like ours, so that He could show us Himself, show us His heart, and show us His love. He came so that He could shed His own blood and die for us, in our place, for our sin. Someone else may give their life for you, but only the blood of Jesus can wash away your sin and reconcile you to God.
By turning away from our sin and living for Him (repentance), and by putting our trust in Him alone to save us from our sin (faith), we are reconciled, made right with God and our sins are washed away (Acts 20:21). The only question is: what is your response to Him at this moment? If you are completely honest with yourself, which soil type would you have to say describes your heart and your response to what Jesus has done for you?
If you would like to discuss this topic more, if you need prayer, or if you want to help us take the Gospel and love of Christ to the rest of the world, please contact us. We pray that you have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!