In The Living Room with Jesus

Hands in the Soil

It is one of those perfect days here in Minnesota where the spring sun is shining and earth is calling for some seeds. My brother, who took over our family farm is hearing the loud call to get his planter out of the shed but sadly, with all the rain we are having, he has found that the land is still too wet to allow their tractors to venture out. As the days pass, the calendar reminds them that the growing season is getting shorter and he can’t wait too much longer to get those bags of seed into the soil. I think it is in the DNA of a farmer to just want to get their hands into the soil.

As a farmer’s daughter I guess I was longing for that too. I mostly have perennials in my garden but usually supplement with some annuals to freshen up my front yard. However, the weather is so unpredictable here in this northern climate I knew that would have to wait for another day.

Today would be the day to deal with my winter planter that has sat by my front door since November. It needed to go and be replaced with a fresh bunch of flowers that would bring much needed color. In addition I had also received a new flowering plant from my son and daughter in law which now needed to be potted for my outdoor patio. It was time to get my hands in the soil and bring beauty to my surroundings. So I walked to the nearest garden center to purchase what I needed to complete those projects.

Well, walking was probably not the best choice and I realized that when I had to carry the patio pot plus the box of flowers I purchased all those blocks back home. So I decided that there would be no way I could carry the bag of potting soil I also needed with me. Another trip back to the store would be required. So I headed home and by the time I got there my arms were sore and my legs tired. I was in no mood to turn around to get the soil. That is when my lazy side kicked in and I decided I could just use the soil that was on the side of my house where a work project had dug up a pipe near my house.

The problem is I am pretty sure the quality of this soil isn’t great. It has been sitting on the side of my house covered in rocks until recently. As I dug into it I noticed rocks were still mixed in. I also saw that pine needles were plentiful and I imagined that there were seeds from the many weeds I deal with on a yearly basis hidden there too. This started to make me wonder how successful my plants would be in this soil. The seed of regret of my choice to forgo going to get the good soil at the store was starting to plant itself in my mind.

Then He came. I felt the tap of the Holy Spirit on my shoulder as He quickly reminded my of a passage of scripture I had read recently. The parable of the four soils in Mark 4. In this passage Jesus had a captive audience as he began telling the story about the importance of soil to the seeds planted within.

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. And as he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Some fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun rose, the seedlings were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the seedlings, and they yielded no crop. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it sprouted, grew up, and produced a crop—one bearing thirtyfold, another sixtyfold, and another a hundredfold.” Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Mark 4:3-9

I have grown up hearing this story over and over again. I have heard many a sermon about the importance of the soil of my own heart and how this parable is to teach us to make sure we have hearts that accept the seed of the Word of God like the good soil. Let me reassure you that I know that I am not going to replant that message here.

The Holy Spirit brought something fresh to me, like the new flowers in my potted plant. What I saw was that Jesus was actually demonstrating what He was talking about. Basically He was practicing what He was preaching.

Do you see it? Jesus had His hands in the soil of the lives of those He was speaking to. As he spoke He was digging the rows needed in the hearts of each individual there that day. He was throwing out fresh seeds with every word He spoke. He not only said it, He did it. He didn’t just tell it, He lived it.

I had to practice what I was preaching this week. I recently posted about what we worship. (see Thursday Thoughts- The Robocall to Worship) The very next day I was given plenty of reasons to worship fear and worry. I had to chose to worship the One True God instead, just as I had preached in my post. I am not always good as that. The truth is if I am not willing to live it, I shouldn’t write about it. If I preach it I must practice it.

This truth is like the fertilizer the soil of every Christian, including me, needs these days. We must practice what we preach! We must not claim one thing and live completely differently. Our “soil” does not just matter to God, it matters to the world we are to reach out to.

Too often I see words of love but actions of hate coming from those who claim to follow Jesus. If we preach love, we must demonstrate love. The soil of the world needs love from loving people. Jesus showed us how to practice what we preach.

We can sing Amazing Grace but then turn and throw condemnation at those we consider sinners. If we preach grace with truth, we must practice grace with truth. The soil of the world needs truth-filled grace from grace-filled people. Jesus showed us how to practice what we preach.

We boldly claim that we are forgiven then turn our backs on those who need it. If we preach forgiveness, we must practice forgiveness. The soil of the world needs forgiveness from people who live forgiven. Jesus showed us how to practice what we preach.

I could go one and on. But I think I have watered this enough for now. The world will only want to get their hands into the soil of our message if it fertile with truth reflected in action. Then the good news of the gospel we preach will produce the hundredfold crop Jesus spoke about and went on to demonstrate to this day.

I just leave you with one question. Are you ready to get your hands dirty? Because it’s time to get our hands into the soil of practicing what we preach and bring some much needed beauty to our surroundings.

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