Today I tilled soil for a blueberry plant.
Now, I am by no means a gardener. Truth be told, I’m not even really an outdoors-y person. At all. In fact, when I was a child, my mom would have to make me put down my book and go outside.
So being outside doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s not that I dislike it; it just doesn’t occur to me to go out there. It takes a lot of mental energy for me to make the conscious decision to go to the park or go for a walk or just ride bikes with my boys in the driveway.
But I’m trying, because we need the fresh air, and the vitamin D, and I want to grow at least a little bit of the food we consume this year. I think there’s a pretty good chance I will fail miserably at cultivating any crops, but I hope it will at least give me a greater appreciation for the things I put into my mouth and the time and effort it takes to grow them.
All of that to say that this was one of my first such soil-tilling experiences, so those of you who have more experience in this area may want to ignore my newbie observations.
I dug up a small plot along the west side of my house. It was hard enough work (read: I am a wimp with no muscles) digging up the hard-packed clay, but just about the time I thought I was making serious progress, my shovel would clink against something hard.
The dirt was full of rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. I knew Missouri had rocky soil. (Not from personal experience, mind you, but from reading the Rocky Ridge series about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s farm in Mansfield, Missouri. I’m a bookworm, not a gardener, remember?) However, the sheer number of rocks I pulled from my tiny plot was shocking to me.
It will be a true miracle if anything grows in my yard this summer.
The whole time I was tossing rocks away from the future home of my delicious berries (a girl can dream, right?), I couldn’t help remembering a story Jesus told:
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Mark 4:3-8
And he explained what the story meant like this: “The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:14-20
With every rock I pulled from the soil, I thought about how if I left it in there, it would inhibit the root growth of anything I tried to plant. And I thought about my own heart, and what kind of soil I am like. I sure want to be like the good soil, don’t you?
And I think, for the most part, my heart is free from the big rocks that would cause my faith to whither and die. But as I meticulously pulled even the smallest rocks from my so-called garden this afternoon, pretending I knew what in the world I was doing, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were any small things in my heart, senses of entitlement, or pride, or jealously, or insecurity that keep me from producing all the fruit that God wants from me.
“I am the true vine,” Jesus says, “and my Father is the gardener…. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:1)
I asked the gardener to come and till up the soil of my heart, to tear me up and reveal all the things that are preventing me from multiplying God’s glory the way He intended me to do. Because when the time of testing comes, I don’t want to fall away. I want to show myself to be a disciple of Jesus. Don’t you?