“A farmer went out to scatter seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. Whenever people hear the word about the kingdom and don’t understand it, the evil one comes and carries off what was planted in their hearts. This is the seed that was sown on the path. Matthew 13: 3-4, 19
If I bring some seeds from overseas back to this country, I’m able to plant them and grow things here that have never grown here before. The fruits of another land will grow in our borders. This is what happens when Christ, the great Sower, sows heaven’s seeds in men’s hearts through the words of scripture. The seeds are powerful and high reproductive. If they are planted in the right kind of soil, they will bear fruit. But their fruitfulness is proportionate to how I hear. Change and effectiveness is all about the kind of soil these powerful seeds encounter.
When someone traveled through the countryside in ancient Palestine, they maneuvered through fields of crops. Farmers didn’t want pedestrians walking through their plantings so they bordered each field with a foot path. Consider what happened when many feet traveled those paths. They became well worn, hardened, almost like concrete. When a sower, carrying a bag of seed at planting time, scattered them in the air, some would inadvertently land on the footpath. (hardened soil) The chances of them penetrating, much less germinating, were slim.
Jesus wants me to understand that this is the condition of men’s hearts. Unbelievers always have hardened soil. The seed of the Gospel comes and bounces off their heart that is calcified by spiritual blindness. But, there are believers who can also have hard hearts. What spiritual condition would cause the Word to bounce off the surface of my heart and fail to take root? A heart of stone.
Long ago, if I was raised in a violent home, if I suffered extreme criticism, if I knew at birth that I was unwanted ~ these things can cause me to retreat. I know that it’s not safe for me to extend my heart. I become accustomed to living behind a crusty shell of safety. I don’t let people love me. I can’t. I even keep the love of Jesus out. I believe Him to be unsafe and His claims too radical even though I am His child. The seed of the Word comes but it’s too threatening for me to embrace it for my own sanctification.
What is the cure for hardened soil? God wants to melt my heart of stone and change it to a heart of flesh. One that feels, beats, grieves, and celebrates. “Is not my Word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29 If I suffer from a hard heart, two things will soften it. The Word of God and my willingness to allow God to dismantle the walls that I have built over time. He’s not going to weaken my defenses overnight. His pace is kind. He takes me one step at a time. He knows what caused me to hide and He builds the perfect bridge of trust, with just the right language, that will give me the courage to let Him in.
Recognizing that I have a hard heart is the crucial beginning. Choosing to trust Him is the next step.
Lord, I can know so much scripture and yet be so unaffected by it. I bring my calcified heart to You. Gentle Healer, come and find me. I’m in here. In Jesus’ name, Amen