Today’s post is the latest in a series of guest posts centered around my church’s annual theme of “Healthy Hearts”. This month’s contributor is Shane Coffman. You can read his bio at the bottom of the post.
I had heard the parable a thousand times. You probably have, too. (Matthew 13)
The sower went out to sow his seed. Some seed fell on the path, where it was either trampled or the birds came and ate the seed before it had any chance to sprout. Some seed fell on rocky soil, and although it sprouted, its lifespan was short because it had no roots. Other seed fell among the thorns, and found itself choked out by its surroundings. The rest of the seed fell among good, rich soil – a friendly environment which allowed it to grow and reproduce.
The problem was that I had always considered this parable to apply only to when a person first hears the good news of Jesus. Some shrug it off, others accept but quickly fall away, others accept but slowly fade away, and others, like myself of course, were the good soil that accepted the Word and produced fruit for the Sower. I had passed the test. My soil (heart) was good.
Fortunately, one day God opened my ears to hear the rest of the story.
He said the seed is the Word of God.
That means anytime – no, every time, I find myself engaged in a study of the Bible or a time of worship with fellow believers, I have the potential to be any one of those four kinds of soil.
I must confess there have been times when I have heard the Word and have let it go in one ear and out the other. Times when a passage or a song have been so familiar that it was as if I was on auto pilot, repeating the words without allowing their message to sink in at all. Times when I’ve arrived on Sunday or Wednesday having already made up my mind that I was going to be bored and disengaged. Times I didn’t like the song leader or song selections, or I didn’t like the speaker or the text for that day, and thus checked out mentally. Times when I allowed the way someone dressed or the way someone spoke to distract me from their message. Times when I allowed my frustration with the whole set of unwritten and extra-Biblical rules of “church” keep me from finding the good in it at all. My heart has been the path – difficult, if not impossible, to penetrate.
At other times, I have been convicted and resolved to make changes to my life to conform to God’s desires for me, only to go back to my old habits by sun down. Times I have taken in an awe-inspiring message only to be unable to retell anything about it the next day at work. Times I have failed to commit to memory or to heart anything I heard. Times I have remembered the catchy tune, but not the rich message of the lyrics. My heart was the rocky soil – shallow and unfriendly to the seed.
Indeed, there have been other times when I was truly changed by what I experienced from God, yet over time I could not maintain the enthusiasm for holiness because I also coveted the trappings of Satan. I was able to live like a “good Christian” when I was at church, but I couldn’t keep it up at work or at school. My heart was choked by thorns. I was trying to serve two masters.
My goal, however, is that every time I gather with other disciples or break open the Word of God, my heart will be the good soil. Undistracted. Open. Allowing plenty of sunlight and moisture for growth and maturing into a branch that produces fruit a hundred times more than what was sown. I desire for my heart to take in every good word and apply it to myself and my own life before applying it to others. I desire to feast on the message of every song in order that I might learn more about Him and be equipped to give thanks and praise in all situations. I want to have a GOOD heart. Noble. Truthful.
How about you? What will the condition of your heart look like the next time you gather with brothers and sisters in Christ? It’s your choice.
What kind of soil will the seed find inside you?
Shane Coffman is simply a follower of Jesus who calls Owasso, Oklahoma his home. He is a husband to Alice and a daddy to Ada. Shane serves in the kingdom as worship minister for the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and helps direct The Tulsa Workshop each March. His passion is to help people connect with God and see Him in their everyday life, and to help them have a song in their heart of praise to Him.