How many times have you heard the Parable of the Sower and the Seed?
This story appears in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and tells of seeds planted in various places. One of the seeds is cast by the wayside where it is trodden down and eaten by birds. Another is cast upon stony ground where it can’t get root. A third is cast among thorns that spring up and choke it out. Finally, some of the seeds are cast on good ground and spring up and yield bounteous fruit.
How many times have you read or talked about that parable in your lifetime? I was trying to figure that out. I’ll bet fifty times is a conservative estimate for me. Add to that all the times I’ve sung Hymn #216 ("We are Sowing",) and the number is closer to a hundred.
You would think that I had that parable down cold, and that there would be nothing left to discover about it. But a month or so ago, we were discussing the Parable of the Sower in Relief Society, and I had a thought hit me so hard that I spoke it out loud without raising my hand.
You see, I’ve always listened to this parable from the vantage point of an active, believing Latter-day Saint who was given the gift of the Gospel in my life by my parents. In considering what the seeds represented, I would shake my head, remembering people I had known who were like the ones that fell on the wayside or on the rocks or among the thorns. If pressed, I could give names and describe situations.
Those things always happened to other people. I had never put myself in the parable until that day in Relief Society when it hit me that, though I wasn’t a seed, I may have been part of the rocky place, the place with no loamy soil to hold the moisture for the tender plant that sprang up.
I blogged once about an experience I had when we moved to another ward and I, a mainstay of my previous ward, became invisible. No one greeted me. No one even noticed me. Had I had a less hardy testimony, I might have withered away, too, and quit coming to church.
After that experience, I realize how important it is for me to reach out to the tender newcomer in my ward, doing my best to operate as moist peat moss instead of a brusque, stony presence.
For me, the Parable of the Sower is no longer about the Sower or the Seed. It’s about the ground, and I pray that the Lord will help me be plowed and thorn-free, ready to be a friend, be a faithful visiting teacher, be one who notices and offers a smile, a handshake, an introduction.
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