by Tony Nester

Becoming Good Soil
Tony Nester
Luke 8:4-15

The closest I ever to get to dirt is when I try to vacuum it up into our Electrolux sweeper. I admire farmers who work the fields and produce a harvest but for myself I try to stay away from dirt. I don't plant. I don't cultivate. I don't garden. So when we moved to Iowa about 28 years ago from New Jersey I had a lot to learn about soil conditions.

I've learned that soil dictates a lot of what farmers do. The better the soil the easier it is to work the fields and the less fertilizer they have to buy to get a crop. I've seen how much attention goes into analyzing soil.

Satellite technology now gives farmers pictures that map in different colors the various qualities of the soil with which they work. With that information they know exactly which parts of their fields need more water, more fertilizer, and more work.

Today's farmers know that you don't treat every part of the field the same way -- good farming requires recognizing different soil conditions.

Jesus parable of the Sower, the seed, and the four different kinds of soil, challenges us to ask, "How good of soil am I for God to work with?

One answer is that I'm like the seed that fell along the path. Palestinian farmers didn't have large fields as we do that were set aside from roadways and paths. Much of the farming was done using strips of ground that were right next to where people walked and traveled. The pathways were, of course, beaten down and hardened. In using every bit of ground available the farmer wouldn't leave much of a margin between the planting strips and the pathways, and so some seed, inevitably, would fall on the hard pathways. Here the seed never penetrated the ground but was left right on the surface and birds easily made a meal of it.

Jesus said that although the Word of God is potent with life-giving power, if the Word gains no access into our hearts, Satan can easily pluck it way from the ...

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