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DIRTY STORIES

Jesus told dirty stories.

Filled with soil and seed.
Buried inside these stories-the secrets of the kingdom – not to the kingdom.
The stories themselves are seeds taking root, with desire to bear fruit.
Jesus’ stories filled with pedestrian imagery and language give heavenly truths earthly access.

The first of these dirty stories Jesus tells in the book of Mark is one that seems to be a primer in understanding the rest he will eventually tell.

A farmer sows his seed.
Four soil types receive these seeds.
-A busy path frequented by predators ready to steal away the scattered meal.
-Seed also gets scattered upon the rocky soil were depth is not an option.
-Then there is the weedy parts that allow some growth but choke out and stunt any chance for harvest.
-Lastly there is the fertile soil, rich and ready to receive and support a crop many times what was planted.

Simple.

My heart was one of the soils, and truth was the seeds.
I always found it interesting that the disciples needed this parable explained.
How dumb where they?
My smug arrogance revealed my own ignorance when I recently read this passage from Marks account.
It turns out I too have not understood this parable.
In this story our life is not the soil.
Jesus says that our life is the seed.
Trying to take root in the various soils were we find ourselves.

This complicates my assumed understanding of this passage.

Many things are still the same,
that God’s truth in whatever form it may take is presented in my life and stimulates growth.
That as it grows, whether or not it is able to mature and bear fruit depends so much on the environment it is growing in.
The busy places of life so easily rob us of life changing ideas that need contemplation and silence. The rocky times of our lives hindering opportunity it seems for any deep relationships. And the deception of wealth and the pursuits of life choke out simple ideas of contentment and peace.

But this fourth soil concerns me the most – the good soil.
Have ever watched a farmer plow a feild?
They cut through the first soil Jesus describes – the hard soil that was only a pathway for rabbits and deer and a dinner plate for the birds.
They cut through the second soil Jesus describes and take out the rocks and remanufacture the landscape.
They cut through the third soil and will rake and harrow out the weeds and turn them into mulch.
The plow does this by cutting through the faded landscape like knives through the soil revealing the dark chocolate rich earth below.
It is flipped completely upside down.
It is the redistribution of nutrients….but it is such a devastating process.

But it provides the richest opportunity for growth.

I don’t like this.
This isn’t a spiritual truth forced upon creation.
this seems to be one of those amazing redemptive observations deep in the rhythms of life.

Things that die, and are discarded can help produce a rich harvest in due time.
In fact their decay provides the nutrients for new life.

This parable helps me understand why there are times when I am more productive than others.
And yet times when even the littlest truth produces a crop from my life.
I have come to discover that it isn’t that my heart isn’t trying to process and grow,
but the landscape I find myself in is hardened, difficult or full of distractions.

This parable reminds me to recognize the tough times.
The times when my life seems to be flipping upside down,
and there is the decay of dying dreams, relationships and ideas – this might be the destructive redeeming qualities of the farmer rescuing the soil.

I have come to observe in my own life that often the sweetest success comes after failure.
In fact it is fertilized and grows better because of it.
I have discovered that often success before failure is just that…success before failure.

Think of who Jesus chose to be his disciples…the drop outs, the failures…those who had experienced rejection and failure….that stuff makes amazing fertilizer. The life Jesus called them to, would cut through their hardened lives and flip everything upside down. And in doing so redistribute the pain so that it can be redeemed and feed future growth.

The early church was not just a place for the redistribution of wealth and power, love and hope. It was a place where together they also redistributed pain and hunger and failure.

They would carry it together.

I find it interesting that the seeds that grow in the rich soil produce a harvest 60 times what was planted.  This abundance can only be for the redistribution for those who aren’t producing any.

The farmers’ harvest wasn’t so he could store it in a barn for himself,
it was for the care of those who are becoming the soil they stand on.

This is where our friendships and communities are so important,
because the plow always comes.

And in those times when we have forgotten how much work life really is,
we will be thankful for those who have experienced the plow before us,
so they can not only remind us of the potential for harvest,
but maybe help us pick out the rocks….pull out the weeds, steer the plow…
and if nothing more,

open up their barn so we can eat.

Next week another dirty story.

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