Gardens and Thorns

This morning I am contemplating Luke 8:7 and 14 – the seed scattered among the thorns.

I love flowers and plants. They just make me so happy. But, I’ve tried and failed at growing so many. The countless empty pots at our house and cafe prove this fact. Now, the only flowering plants I own are geraniums. They’re hearty, can withstand the heat and sun, as well as the thorny weeds that threaten them daily. And there are thorny weeds. I don’t know how they get in my second floor balcony pots, but they’re there nonetheless. I’ve scratched my hands more times than I can recount trying to weed these plants without first putting on a pair of gloves.

20130819-073146.jpgMy entire life I’ve viewed the parable of the sower as one for evangelism and discipleship. And it is. Be careful where you scatter the “seed” (i.e., the Word of God) that it lands on good soil. And I suppose we do have a measure of control on that. But after living in the desert for this long, I’ve come to realize that I don’t always get a choice on the soil. Sometimes it’s just sand and clay for as far as the eye can see. I can try as hard as I can to produce nice crops, but without first purchasing soil from somewhere else, those plants aren’t going to survive here. Trust me, I have a host of dead plants to prove it.

But this morning I saw this part of the parable in a different light. I am like that plant among the thorns. The Word of God has been planted in my heart and it took root and grew. But now, life’s struggles threaten to “choke out” the seed that was planted. I am surrounded by thorns: problems, issues and concerns that seem gigantically huge. They’ve grown so tall that they cover me so I can’t see the healing light of the sun.

This is what happens when I allow thorny weeds to get too big. I can’t focus on Jesus. All I can see are the unanswerable problems.

And I think God planted me here by design. I’m in the desert with so little water. The soil is harsh. The heat can be unbearable. And there are thorny weeds everywhere. But God is calling me to rise above the thorns, to look at the sun, and dig my roots deep for the little water that is there. Desert plants may not be the most beautiful when compared to others that grow in different climates, but they are striking. I am always amazed when driving through the vast nothingness and then coming upon this gigantic green bush with vividly bright pink flowers. It’s really something. This is where God put me. Not to punish me. No, rather, he placed me here to grow my faith. He placed me here so I would appreciate the sweetness of his presence.

I still don’t like the thorns. They constantly try to choke me. But the great Gardener reminds me that he will cut out the thorns if I trust in him. All I need to do is keep staring at the son.


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