And there was some seed that fell on good soil, and when it grew, produced a crop that yielded thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as the seed. Mark 4:8
There are parts of this parable that I do not understand that I will have to simply hold loosely in my heart and wait until that day when the things that are hidden will be perfectly plain and the secrets will become common knowledge.
But I must be careful how I listen.
And I am not sure which parts are statements of “this is how it is,” and others are cautions as to what sort of soil we can choose to be, and what is our role is and who the sower is or maybe Who the Sower is. But for today, I will be a farmer who prepares the soil to receive the seed. And I will do what I can do to guard against Satan snatching, and to sift out the pebbles that keep the roots from reaching down deeply, and maybe even dig down to remove boulders, and to wiggle loose and yank weeds and thorns that choke out. In my own life, and in the lives around me.
Because you just never know when the seed will yield a hundredfold.
So yesterday, I started reminiscing about thirty years ago. And arriving at a 2000-acre cattle ranch in Mexico with forty people and a six-week-old infant and a toddler and it was like 120 in the shade, of which there was very little, and no water and no electricity and lots of flies. And the truck kept breaking down.
So there Alan was, sitting by the side of the road. Yet again. And I imagine he had a big list of stuff he needed to buy in Navojoa, like water pump parts and rice and beans and bananas and probably toilet paper for the latrine. The one that had a big stick leaning up in the corner so you could whack the lid really hard so all the cockroaches would run down before you sat.
But something was wrong with the truck. And the traffic was zipping by. Metaphorically, since the highway was narrow and muddy. Except, one car. One car zipped by metaphorically, and then slowed down and then pulled off the road and turned around and came back. And a small man with curly hair and big glasses got out of the car and said, “God told me to stop here and help.”
And I was thinking about Enrique Figueroa all day yesterday. And about him stopping. And then spending the entire day driving around Alan and the car mechanic guy to buy parts and groceries even though I am pretty sure he had other plans. But he dropped his nets and followed Jesus.
And last night there was a knock at my mom’s door, just as we were sitting down to family dinner, and there he was, Pastor Enrique Figueroa. And I hadn’t seen him for ever so long. But he had brought by a pot of tulips earlier for my mom, maybe for Valentine’s Day, and to thank her for everything my dad and she had done for his family. And he remembered packed lunches and boxes of cookies and trips to the hardware store that she sure didn’t remember. And he sat at one end of the table and I sat at the other, and we just smiled at each other, thinking about all of those stories and intertwined lives and how his youngest daughter was born in a back bedroom at my mom’s house and how he sang a welcome song to Andrea when the doctor flipped on the pink light outside the delivery room door.
So whether I am the one scattering seed or the one yanking weeds or one of the little plants springing up, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I have ears to hear. Or according to the J. B. Phillips version, Then he added, “Every man who has ears should use them!”
And I am kind of embarrassed because I really don’t watch those facebook videos so very often. But I did this morning, because Teresa Smith posted it with an apology, and I trust her. And it was a good story about a guy who was blind, blind to who was around him, the image-bearers, until someone gave him a pair of magic glasses, and he could see. He could see the dad who just lost his job, and the woman who was grieving over her friend and the tired young mother who was working two jobs to support her children. And suddenly he wasn’t in such a hurry and life looked a lot different. And he stopped zipping down the muddy narrow highway of life by with a tense grumpiness, and he started pulling off and turning around. And it made all the difference.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear; he who has eyes to see, let him see.
So He taught them his message with many parables such as their minds could take in.