Earlier today, a dozen or so of us were charged with an important task. We were sent home with a plant pot and a gladioli bulb – prayerfully sown. We had used the Parable of the Sower as a focus for our prayer. The bulb first representing a person, a family, a community or more. We then held them before God and prayed for good soil and for the seed of the Word of God to land well.
Like so many of the parables it leads us on in our understanding of how God is working out his purposes – bringing in his kingdom. Have you ever wondered what the people listening made of it? They would be sure that when Jesus started to talk about sowing seeds that he would be picking up the old promises of of God planting his people in their own land again. Jesus was about to tell them how they would be victorious any day soon…wasn’t he?
Imagine the reaction then as Jesus starts to talk about a sower with a bad aim! This wasn’t people being sown though – it was the Word. Jesus seemed to say that, somehow or other, the seed (or Word) landing in different environments might be some kind of selection process or judgement.
Some would hear the Word and it would be immediately snatched away or lost. Others hear about Jesus and there is a little glimmer but it is going nowhere really. There are those who hear the Word and grow in faith but just before the heavenly party poppers are out, an event or an illness or a loss has the new disciple in a stranglehold. You know the parable.
With a plant pot and a sharpie pen in hand we prayed – some will have prayed for some good soil, some would have prayed for an accurate aim and others will have prayed that we do some groundwork.
Apparently they farmed a bit differently in Palestine back then. The Sower might not have had a bad aim at all. They sowed first and ploughed after. Some seeds that landed badly may well have been lost but it wasn’t necessarily the end of the story. With God there is never really an end to a story. Don’t despair when the Word seems to land badly in a situation – pray for some kind of ‘ploughing in’ down the line somewhere.