Last week we talked about the difficulty of working up hard, packed-down soil as mentioned in Mark 4. This week, we’re going to take a look at the second soil mentioned in that parable, the rocky soil.
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. (Mark 4:5-6)
Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 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. (Mark 4:16-17)
There are parts of the world that have very rocky soil. Where we live, the soil has some rocks in it, but it is still pretty workable. But there are other places, like in the high desert on the East side of the Cascade Mountains where the soil is full of rocks. It makes for very difficult farming – which is why you see a lot of livestock farming and not a lot of produce farming.
But there are places where farmers have been careful to dig up as many rocks as they come across. They stack them in piles and make fences out of them. They put them in boxes and pretty much anywhere they can to get them out of the way of the farming they hope to accomplish.
The point is, they have to do the work of removing the rocks in order to be able to work the ground there. I don’t know if you’ve ever tilled a garden and hit a rock, but even a small rock can rock and rattle the tiller. Add in a lot of rocks, and you’re going to have a hard time. You have to get rid of the rocks.
How is this important in terms of sharing the gospel? As we’ve mentioned, we want to do the necessary work to prepare the soil to receive the seed of the gospel. We want to give that seed the best opportunity to grow into a fruit-producing plant. Rocky soil is another hinderance to a seed growing into a fruit producing plant.
So we have to do the hard work of digging up the rocks and moving them aside so we can work the soil.
A couple notes for us as believers:
The importance of a root system.
The reason the plant in the parable withered and died was because the roots didn’t go deep into the soil where they could draw out water and nutrients. So when the heat of life came along, when trials and tribulation come along, the root system isn’t deep enough to sustain the plant.
The importance of water
Just as the roots need to be deep to be able to pull nutrients out of the water, they need to go deep to be able to pull water out of the soil as well. This is one reason many farmers grow Alfalfa. The roots of an alfalfa plant can go as deep as 50 feet into the ground. So, when the weather is hot and it hasn’t rained in weeks, the alfalfa can still pull water up from the ground to sustain life.
If our roots don’t go deep we won’t receive the proper nutrients or water to sustain the life we’ve been called to. This is why it’s important to be near the water source – Jesus himself – our living water. (John 4)
We also need to immerse ourselves in nourishment from God and His word. If we don’t have the nutrients we need, our roots won’t go very deep.
Back to the idea of preparing the soil…
As you build relationships with members of your 8 to 15, look for rocks in the soil. Look for those things that are going to keep them from being able to put down deep roots.
That could be anything from bad relationships to bad habits. They could have an unhealthy relationship with a “friend” who is going to serve as a rock in their soil. That rock could be the thing that keeps them growing to a life-sustaining depth. Maybe they have an addiction they struggle with. And no matter how deeply they desire to follow Christ, unless they also work at overcoming the addiction (with the added power of the Holy Spirit) that will be a rock that threatens the longevity of their life.
There are many other rocks that get in the way too: Commercialism and the desire to keep up with the world around them can serve as a rock. Pride and ego and the faulty belief that they are able to be all they need to be in and of themselves can be a rock. A misunderstanding of truth and believing the myth that truth is relative and you can’t truly know anything for sure – this is a big rock.
How do you deal with these? Often times, you have to deal with them one at a time. As they come up and you uncover the rocks, you have to start to dig it up. The bigger the rock, the more work it takes to dig around the rock to get it out of the soil. And when you get the rock out of the ground it leaves a big hole that the person can often misinterpret as emptiness and loss. It isn’t until you work the hard soil around and underneath that rock, and plant the seed of the gospel and they start to see that new growth that they will really be able to see a better future for themselves. So it is imperative that you continue on through the whole process.
One last thought:
Should we not scatter the seed of the gospel in places that aren’t ready for it? The parable doesn’t teach that. The parable says, as he (the farmer) was scattering his seed, some fell on the path, in the rocky places and among the thorns. The farmer was seeding a field, but some of the seed went beyond where the soil was ready to be planted. He threw the seed anyway.