Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rocky People - Without Deep Roots

Yesterday, I started a series of posts from Phillip Keller’s book “A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit” where Keller describes each type of soil from the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-15. Today I want to continue by looking at the second type of soil Keller discusses.

The second type of soil which our Lord discussed was rocky or stony ground. In modern terminology we would refer to this as marginal soil. This is soil which, even though cleared and cultivated at enormous cost and with infinite care, often produces only pathetic results. This is true because it is so stony. What then constitutes rocky ground – unproductive soil? There are three types of marginal land:

  1. The first of these includes those deceptive areas where only a thin layer of soil lies over a vast expanse of basement rock (so-called bedrock). Seed dropped into such shallow soil will spring up quickly. Rocks retain both heat and moisture. So in this apparently favorable ground the seedlings appear to get off to a quick start. Sad to say, the sudden burst of green growth is short lived. The fragile roots of the young plants run into rocky resistance. They cannot grow.

    The parallel in the Christian experience is unbelief. Sometimes this is because our belief is not really in Christ, but rather in the church itself: the pastor, the evangelist, the liturgy, the fellowship, the experiences, etc. Our belief, our trust, our confidence, our faith must find its foundation in God. Sometimes our unbelief is our refusal to actually believe God’s Word. The net result is that at every point where they have spoken to us and we have neglected to react as we should, the unbelief of our hearts hardens us. The third dimension to unbelief is our formidable preoccupation with self.

  2. The second type of rocky ground is what we generally call stony soil. This is land littered with loose stones and boulders varying in size from that of large eggs to random rocks weighing hundreds of pounds. Frequently this is very fertile soil which requires enormous labor and expense to clear for proper cultivation.

    In the Christian experience there are likewise wilderness areas. There are areas of stony soil, ground in which the good seed of God’s word has been dropped. It germinates, flourishes briefly, comes up against rocks of resistance, then withers away to nothing. Any point or any place in life where a person prefers to disobey God, to go his own way and to do his own thing is stony soil. This is what it means to have a hard heart. It is the kind of ground where the good gardener encounters enormous grief and labor to get anything to grow.

  3. The third type of rocky soil is what is known as gravelly ground. It is land interlaced with layers of gravel or streaks of sand. Frequently a thin cover of top soil conceals the true condition of the ground beneath the surface. Seeds or plants that take root here will generally spring up swiftly. They show rather sudden, spectacular growth, but a few days of hot sun and wind soon wipe them out as they wither away. The substrata of sand and gravel is like a sieve hrough which all the moisture and nutrients drain away. Roots shrivel and die and only desolation remains.

    What is the parallel in our personal lives? The gravel layer that lies below the surface with so many of us is the ground of our ingratitude. It is the deeply ingrained grumbling in which so many of us indulge. This is absolutely fatal to any sort of Christian growth. The streak of sand in our experience is the habit of fault-finding, criticism, and censure of others. Unless we are alerted to this, it can easily become a chronic condition. We can develop a mindset that habitually sees only the dark, difficult side of life. This is not good ground in which the Divine Gardener can grow His sunny fruits.

    Instead of raging against the Lord for the way He manages our lives, let us carefully consider all the benefits He bestows. Look for and deliberately seek out the lovely, beautiful, noble, honest, and gracious aspects of life. Search for the best in others.

Reading this, I can't help but think of my friend Becky who is in the process of blogging 1000 things for which she is grateful. You can read some of her posts here, here, here, and here. It encourages my heart to read her posts and she's right: things to be thankful for are everywhere if we just look for them. I hope you find much to be thankful for today!


Kim said...

I have enjoyed Becky's thankful list,too! There is so much to be grateful for! This book sounds wonderful!

R. D. Bailey said...

Great post and beautiful blog.

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