The Rev. Leigh Spruill preached on the parable of the Sower and the Seed from Matthew 13:1-9 yesterday. I’d heard it many times and as Leigh remarked, “Some parables are like distant cousins that we see once every few years at family reunions. We think we know them because they are so familiar, but then we realize that we really don’t know them at all.”
Leigh repeated an oft-asked question, “Why do some seeds fall on some people and not take root?” I immediately thought about the Christians who I’ve met over the years who are faithful churchgoers and who claim their Christian birthright, but they lead their lives as if they’ve never heard of Christ. Quick to judge and condemn, they exhibit everything but the love of Christ to their fellow man. They are the beaten down paths where the birds are able to feast on the seed.
But it wasn’t “those people” that Rev. Spruill was talking about; he was talking about me. He continued, “A far better question is not if we are good soil, but where in our lives are we not living like we are supposed to. These are the areas with the brambles and the weeds where the thorns have grown up and eventually have choked out the seeds.”
I thought back to my life before 2007 and admitted that my rocky path had always been about unmarried sex. I was always monogamous, having sex with a boyfriend, but one who I was not married to. After my divorce in 2008 I was back in the dating scene and I asked myself the hard question, “Is that what God intended, that people would have sex without the commitment of marriage?”
I had known since I was 18 what God’s answer was, but it was hard to reconcile that our enlightened culture was wrong in reducing sex to a fun but casual encounter, like going to dinner or seeing a movie.
After much searching, I realized that casual sex for me is a form of emotional abuse and it was the hardened, beaten down path in my life. I admitted that I either had sex with someone who I really didn’t care about enough to spend my life with, or I was hoping that the relationship would eventually turn into marriage. In the first case, I was the abuser, leading him on when there was no future in our relationship. In the second, I was inflicting the abuse on myself by not being honest about my feelings and using sex as a glue to hold our relationship together.
I have more hard patches of brambles and weeds in my life, but I confess that I can’t clear the rocks on my own. It is only when I admit my brokenness and hardness of heart that I discover God’s power in my weakness.
Rev. Spruill commented “the soil must be dug up and turned over in order to be ready to receive the seed.” That is sure true in my life and I am grateful for the tilling.