For many months now Wanda has been sharing the gospel with people here at the motel. Most reject the good seed she has been offering, preferring to stay in fear and ‘self’. This has been difficult for Wanda as she so wants to help others and share with them the path to freedom that we have found. Unfortunately, many cannot, or will not, let go of their lives to embrace the love, healing, and salvation Jesus is offering them. Wanda knows the seed within her is good but realizes the soil in others is bad. Her encounters are a hard visual lesson about the bad soil and the good soil we see in people, just as Jesus described in His Word. (Matthew 13:3-13, Mark 4:3-20 and Luke 8:5-15).
Our lives are a garden
Our lives are a garden, and the soil in that garden is everything. We often think of soil just in terms of salvation, but it is so much more than that. When Jesus is talking about soil, He is referring to our spiritual ability to accept truth, all truth, not just selective bits we like. If we limit our understanding of soil just to salvation, we limit our ability to understand just how far-reaching this principle is. This is another trick of the enemy to keep us young.
We need to accept that when Jesus brings us truth, any truth, depending on the soil of our spirit, we will either accept or reject what He has to say. The soil in our garden will either be good or bad. We can become believers and embrace the truth of salvation, yet choke on the hard truth that calls us to give up our idols or exposes ‘self’ in us. All this depends on the nature of the soil within us.
Did you know that on a farm not all the soil is the same? Every piece of soil is different, just like humans. Some soil is full of clay which doesn’t drain well, while others are sandy, which drains water excellently. There are soils, like those in pine forests, that are especially acidic, while others tend toward alkalinity. Some soils are soft and open, and others are hard and dry. But can we tell the difference between good soil and bad soil? Yes, we can, just by looking at it. Bad soil is barren of life. There is nothing growing on it.
How to produce bad soil
When we see vast open fields where farmers have plowed up the soil and turned it over so they can plant their favored crop, we are actually seeing them kill their own soil. They are destroying the very fabric of their living and don’t even realize it. When they plant seed, in order to make it grow, they need to feed it artificial man-made chemicals. Do this long enough and the soil will eventually die completely, addicted to chemicals and unable to produce anything on its own. The soil that has been continuously plowed will also develop a hard pan, think sheet of concrete, where the plant roots cannot penetrate. This will stunt plant growth and make the ground barren. Such is the result of modern, industrialized agriculture.
How religion creates bad soil
Think of how religion has spent so many years plowing into believers’ lives, teaching them only the basics of faith. Religious leaders have deceived believers into thinking they cannot grow in faith without them. The monoculture of religion has been great at nurturing its own empire filled with nothing but immature and ‘self’-filled acolytes; totally dependent on weak and frail man for their spiritual food. Religion has failed to nurture relationship and grow the body of Christ into a Bride fit for Him. Their constant artificial work has created a dead soil, a hardpan, in the lives of many, which prevents believers from accepting the truth of the wilderness that would bring them into deeper intimacy with Jesus.
Turning bad soil into good
Do you know what it takes to turn dead soil, hardpan and all, into good soil again? Microbes. The cycle of life all starts with life so small we cannot even see it. The most important life a farmer must nurture is microbial life. If he only looks at his final crop as valuable, then he will actually end up destroying the microbial life on his farm just to produce said crop. He will actually work against his own goal, just like religion. No, to be a successful, sustainable farmer, he must foremost protect the smallest life he is called to steward.
God is an excellent farmer, and He does not look for the end product as His goal, but all life in His care.
How does one nurture microbes? To begin, we first need to realize what microbes need to eat. They don’t eat what we eat or what other animals eat or what plants eat. No, microbes eat what we call waste. It is human waste, animal waste, dead and decaying plant and animal material that is the food for microbes. In order for them to live, something must die. To create a good soil, we must learn to take the organic waste animals and plants produce and feed that to the microbes. We call this composting. Just by putting all this ‘dead’ material together will cause the naturally occurring microbes to flourish. They will eat all the ‘garbage’ and what they produce is what we call good soil, rich and fertile, full of life.
A fruitful seed bed
Take this ‘good’ soil and place it on ‘dead’ soil and now we have something we can plant a seed in. If we take a seed, any seed, and plant it in the living soil that seed will put down roots and grow. Why? Because the microbes created the right environment, the food, the plant needs for life. Once the plant grows roots, it can then spring forth and grab the energy it needs from the sun to flourish, thus continuing the cycle of life (and lessons) God created. When the plant dies, it’s decaying body will feed the microbes growing in the soil and the cycle can continue without man’s intervention.
A truly living soil is one where plant life grows naturally, without the ‘help’ of man.
The death of 'self' leads to growth of spirit
What does spirit need to grow? If you guessed the death of ‘self’ you would be right. ‘Self’ is a waste product in our lives. ‘Self’ produces nothing of value in the spirit. It leads us to waste our lives in vain pursuits that, if not checked, will produce a barrenness in us. The ‘self’ nature will create a barren soil in us where no seed will take root or grow. The older we are, the worse it gets. There is only one way to reverse this process, and that is to bring the ‘self’ nature to death. As we do this, we feed the microbes of our spirit.
The very smallest parts of our spirit will feed on the very things that once brought death.
Where we have failed, God’s Spirit takes those failings and turns them into life. The very acts of ‘self’, the addictions, pain, conflict and trauma of the past, can become good soil; a seedbed of life within us. From the depths of what we thought was utter death, God brings forth life all because we repented of ‘self’ and let it die, producing the environment our spirit needs to flourish.
Good seed into good soil
As we surrender our all to God, letting our ‘self’ nature die, He can, and does, plant new seed into the soil of our gardens. This seed is truth we need to embrace, learn, and love. The soil of our gardens, now enriched by the dead and decaying ‘self’ nature, can accept the new seed, the new truth God is putting into our lives. The seed will flourish in this ‘good’ soil and produce the sweet fruit God is looking for in our lives; fruit that will remain.
The fruit God produces in us starts with soil. The soil of our spirit, however, must be nurtured and given what it needs for life. Good soil needs continual repentance to produce the death of ‘self’ necessary for spiritual growth. With humility and repentance, the very soil of our lives will flourish. A soil where God can deposit the truth of His Word in us and it will be received with joy. Good seed in good soil. From there, His truth, His seed planted in us, can grow and produce a crop, 30, 60 or a hundredfold.
Homer and Wanda