Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Good Soil

I wrote a while ago about my basil plant. I have an update and an analogy to the faith.

Last I shared, the woody-stemmed, larger plant was blossoming. The smaller one wasn't doing as well. Both of those produced smaller leaves, but many. But that was about it... my plants plateaued at this stage for months.

I saw a basil plant at the supermarket. It was in the tiniest little pot, but there were lots of shoots and these big leaves. I bought it and replanted it in more soil. It was fine for a couple days, but then it all started to wilt. My new plant died. Now, all that is left are these trimmed stems, turned dry and brown.

Meanwhile, I decided to pay more attention to my faithful plant. I decided to give it more soil, like I did the failed, new plant. I found a bigger container and added more soil.

Something profound happened. The thing exploded, again! Except this time, the leaves grew so much larger. I got out of my plant (grown from seed) what I desired from the one I bought - these substantial leaves!

Not only that, but the smaller plant within the same pot as old faithful, is doing just as well as its bigger brother.

What can be learned from this? I am reminded of a parable Jesus gave. Mark 4 describes how the Kingdom of God is like one who sows seed, and some falls upon the road, some among the rocks, some among the thorns, and some among good soil. The seed upon the road is snatched up by birds; the rocky seed sprouts quickly, but wilts with no substantial roots taking hold; the thorns choke out the growth and the good soil flourishes. This is a metaphor for hearing the Word of God, his gospel, and how our environment affects what response we have to it. I have heard the gospel and for years, I have grown, only to be hindered in some way from thriving. I see how my choices, those things I CAN do, in my freedom, still are not beneficial, though perhaps permissible (1 Cor 10:23). I CAN surround myself with things, and gadgets and flood my eyes with titillation and distraction. But they do not edify. They are thorns. When I sit among vile things, numb to their influence, I rest upon rocks, and His good news will not amount to much, but wither.

Unless I transplant myself among good soil.

I did this with my plants, and they flourished. I gave them a more suitable environment to thrive and grow, bearing good fruit. Why can't we do the same thing for ourselves? Why can't we change our environments to better receive the good news of the Word (John 1:14-17)? What's stopping us? Our selfish pride, not wanting to be told how to live? Fear that the gospel may take us places we are uncomfortable in, losing control of what mundane lives we can live apart from God?

I noticed that in these last couple weeks, I have watched significantly less television. And I've been full of joy! I received more out of television that entertainment. I received a spirit of timidity and sloth, lust and loneliness. I can easily isolate myself in front of a television, and never have to deal with life, people, relationships, work, study, etc. It's an escape from reality, and as long as I plug myself up to its incessant flow of content and flickering images, I can ignore reality. Wow, what abundant life that offers (John 10:10)!

Now, there are other vices in my life that choke out my flourishing. I'm seeing how my compulsion to check Facebook is drawing me into similar patterns as television did (and still does when I feel particularly lazy).

My questions are these: What in your lives prevents you from flourishing? Could you benefit from new scenery? What can you strip from your lives to foster new growth and break free from stagnation and puny fruit? What thorns choke life out of you and need to be removed from your lives?

Are you going to act upon this and thrive?

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