It was 1975 or so when, for the first time in my life, I felt the warm sense of accomplishment after several months of tending a “large crop” of vegetables from which I was able to reap the benefits of all my hard labor. Well… mostly my dad’s hard labor, as I was watched him work hard and listened to his words of wisdom and advice about preparing, planting, tending, and finally harvesting the vegetables. Just a few months ago they were nothing but tiny seeds. I can remember with great joy eating a tomato sandwich that was made up of white bread, mayonnaise, salt & pepper, and fresh, delicious red tomatoes from our own garden. Our garden, not something bought from a store. Not something given to us by other people. No, these were fresh vegetables, tasty and delicious, from our own garden. It was in those years of helping my dad grow a garden that I learned much about sowing & reaping and how that principle—whether you are a follower of Jesus or not—will affect and effect not only your life but all the relationships in your life.

 

If it wasn’t for other people sowing into my life, I really don’t know where I would be today. If it weren’t for older men and women taking me under their wing when I was young and smart (yeah, we all thought we were), I would have really screwed my life up. It was their counsel, their input, their insight that kept me on the straight and narrow—maybe it was the curvy and wide—nonetheless. The importance of sowing and cultivating godly character in other people’s lives is what makes our families, our communities, and our countries what they are today. Our life is the sum of our experiences, our relationships, our education, our decisions, and our relationship with God.

If I were to make a list of all the people who have sown into my life over the half a century I’ve been alive, I could probably fill this magazine article with just their names. It was their humility that led them to a place of giving me what God had given them. Jesus once said to His disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give.” It was this principle that ruled their hearts and led them to give it away. The thing about God is that no matter how much He gives you He will never run out. Why? Because He has an endless supply. In the current world that we live in, we are running “short” on everything. Shortages on gas, shortages on toilet paper, shortages on coins, even shortages on workers. But God does not run short on anything. You can never sow too much.

 

Jesus told a story about a farmer who “sowed” his seeds in all kinds of places: on rocky ground, among thorns and thistles, and on good ground. Some seeds were taken away by the fowl of the air and others by the beasts of the field because the rocky ground would not let it take root. You would think that the farmer was sowing indiscriminately as if he were being irresponsible with his planting of the seed. But, Jesus never talked about that. However, He did talk about what kind of soil we are.

 

Some dirt [or people] were hard and rocky, unable to receive the seed sown into their life. Are you an angry and bitter person who has hardened their heart to the love of God? Have you been hurt so many times that you will not receive anything from anyone anymore? Maybe God is calling you today to allow Him to soften the “soil” of your heart and receive His love and allow His Holy Spirit to plant His power of forgiveness in your heart. It doesn’t matter what was done to you or what you did. God’s love can overcome and overwhelm anything. “That’s a pretty bold statement,” you might say. Yes, it is; but remember that God is “a limitless and an endless supply of everything” God.

 

In almost 40 years of active ministry, I have seen so many people destroy their lives and relationships because of their unforgiving and hard hearts. I know of the atrocities that have been perpetrated on children and women by others who took advantage of them. I understand the pain and memories you live with every day but, unless you allow God to till up the hard soil of your heart, you will lead a fruitless and frustrating life. You really don’t want that, do you? I don’t think you do.

The other dirt was the one full of thorns and thistles. The thorns and thistles are the cares of this life. Cares, like possessions, prestige, and prominence. “What do you mean?” You ask. I am talking about possessions like houses, cars, the latest and greatest technology, gadgets and peripherals, boats and floats, clothes, jewelry, and the list could go on and on for many more paragraphs. You spend all your time, efforts, and money to buy these things. You get the picture. Are those things bad and evil in and of themselves? No, no, no! Prestige is wanting and needing the praise and admiration of others. It is when you are willing to compromise your character, your beliefs, and your commitments just to move up in the world. We all know people who have done this. Maybe, I am talking about you. Prominence is when you need more than anything to be above others. To exalt yourself to a place of fame that you draw your identity and self-worth from your high and mighty position. You lift yourself up in your own eyes and see everyone else as less than and small compared to you. Hollywood, Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms are full of people just like this. They have started to believe their own press. They believe they are as great as the magazines, newspapers, web posts, YouTube videos, and others say they are. Maybe this is where you are. These are the thorns and thistles that will choke out the plants that have grown up from the seed the farmer sowed. All those things and more are temporal and vain. I remember being younger and desiring all those things. I was in hot pursuit of it all, until God stopped me in my tracks. I heard Him clearly say through all the busyness of my life, “If you live a simple life, you will always have what you need when you need it. I will always provide for you.” That was the day I pumped the brakes on my “full steam ahead” life and slowed it down so I didn’t miss the moments that God wanted to sow seed into my life, allowing those seeds of mercy, grace, kindness, and love to cultivate my life.

 

Are you on a quest to get as much as you can, as fast as you can, from whoever you can? Are you laying your head down at night with the assurance that all is well with your soul? Are you allowing the cares of this life to choke out the life of God that has been sown in you?

 

The last soil that Jesus talked about was the good dirt. The dirt that was ready to receive. The dirt that was rich with nutrients and life. The dirt that was good to plant in. It wasn’t full of anger, regret, bitterness, greed, fame, resentment, unforgiveness, and so much more, which are all barriers to the seed’s growth to fruition. The good dirt makes itself open to the things of God that produce life: the fruit of the Spirit. Paul said that the Spirit which lives in us will produce the fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” How can that happen? We must be good dirt. But how can we do that? Humility, openness, vulnerability, receptivity, meekness—these traits and more are things we must have in order to be the dirt that is ready to be cultivated. When we do, we will produce life that is beautiful, amazing, delightful, and exquisite. We become a landscape that people are attracted to and want in and for their life.

 

What kind of dirt are you?