The Soil – Part 4

As a child, i always looked forward to the school breaks. My dad would take advantage of his business and ministry trips to take us on mini -vacations. And it was mad fun. Our trips took us to Machakos, Nakuru, Kericho, Embu, Meru and Loitoktok [local tourism nani]. My favourite destination at the time was Nakuru. I looked forward to our usual stop over at the Great Rift Valley Check Point to marvel at the wonder that is the Great Rift Valley. Come to think of it, i need to that real soon. The view, especially in the soft glow of the morning sun is absolutely breathtaking. Another habit i had at that young age was lookin up into the clouds and in my head and heart, have conversations with God. Some were as silly as “why that cloud looks like a horse” or “heal those that are sick”. And i know, at the bottom of my knower, that he heard, and he answered. Such precious memories.

I equally loved our 5 hour road trips upcountry. [I was the designated and self appointed singer for the entire journey]. On those trips, i got practical lessons in geography [though i later dropped it like a bad habit]. If you were born before1999 [let’s not argue please], you will remember our G.H.C books had a collection of maps [and we were expected to remember all of them- what for?]. One of them showed rivers and lakes, another longitude and latitude, another the hills and mountain and another, the agricultural segments and so on and so forth. If you remember [no judgement if you don’t], there was one that showed the agricultural segments [arid, semi arid areas, cash and food crops etc], and which crops grew in which areas. For instance, the Rift Valley and upper western region was considered the bread basket because of the predominance of wheat, barley and maize farming [again, i dropped the subject so, just follow my drift. I’m trying to make a point, alright?]. Embu – Mwea was known for rice, the coffee plantations that were common place in Muranga, Kiambu and its environs while Kericho was synonymous with tea. 0

For me, those maps were boring and naturally, i hated having to memorise them. But the truth is, they were extremely important because they taught us which climatic conditions were best suited for what type of crop. For instance, cotton and pyrethrum thrived in regions that had predominantly dark cotton soil, the western highlands were best for tea, maize and bananas and the eastern highlands were best for potatoes, coffee, so on and so forth.

Anyway!! What’s the point of all this banter about Kenya and farming? ūüėā. The soil.

Let’s go back to our reading in Mark 4.

As you recall, Jesus was telling the story of the sower who went to sow seed. In the process, the seed fell in 4 different types of soil or ground and we have so far, looked at the first three. Now, let’s look at the 4th and last. Yes? Jesus describes this last environment as good ground. Here, we see that the seeds which fell in good ground sprang up and yielded a harvest, some of 30, others of 60 and others 100 fold. As he later explained the parable to his disciples, Jesus described good ground as representative of ones who hear the word,¬†accept¬†it,¬†and bear¬†fruit.

By the way, i’ ve just had a flashback – Do you remember the picture used in our Bibles for this parable? The most common illustrations or pictures shown to us during Sunday School had a man, the sower, walking and scattering seed, and all the 4 types of environment were visible in the picture. So, is it safe to say that at any given time, all 4 types of ground are represented in the congregation?

From what Jesus explained, we see that the good ground has 3 characteristics – the ability to hear, accept and be fruitful.

Hearing in this case is not just the physical ability and sense of hearing, no. It speaks of a spirit that is tuned into God’s frequency and is able to pick out from the message being delivered from the pulpit what is specific to him/her. This is a person who is familiar with the voice of God. And has a heart that is constantly searching for God. Acceptance speaks to the ability to allow the word take root and begin to effect change and transformation in our lives. Acceptance creates the perfect environment for the seed to take root and begin to change the “how” we do things. It means the hearer is submitted enough to accept the truth of God’s word and walk in obedience to it. And can i tell you, the faster you accept and walk in obedience, the faster the change is manifested – as fruit.

By the way, this is not just in reference to areas that need to be repented of. No. It touches even those areas that the Lord wants us to grow in. Ubaya ni vile the first thing we think about is sin, eish.

Fruitfulness. Do you know you cannot hide fruit? Do also you know that all trees in the shamba do not produce the same quantity of fruit? And that in one year you can get 55 mangoes and the next 125?

Ok. So why didn’t Jesus simply leave it as, they bore fruit, and instead went on to state the rate or return? In my view, the graduation from 30, to 60 and 100 fold is an illustration of two things – the degree to which we hear and accept the word of God; and the wisdom to remain consistent. So, what should we do?

First, through prayerful introspection, identify your level of fruitfulness in all areas. Yes. You can. A farmer knows which side of his shamba will produce the sweetest maize so don’t try and make an excuse here. If you are honest, you will agree that some areas have more fruits than others.

Secondly, identify why the is less fruit in an area than others. Is it because of what i have set my heart on? My level of obedience? My fears and doubts? And again, this is not simply because you sinned. No. It can be deficiency in understanding, or ignorance of the whole truth in any area.

Third, deal with the hurdles and make a commitment to stay consistent. The Christian walk is not one of perfection but one of repentance. That said, consistency means that regardless of the state of the soil [1,2,3 and 4], we allow the word to continually check us, wash us and restore us to fruitfulness. And the truth is, His word is not a novel. Its alive and well – we jsut need to allow Him to work on us.

Prayer: Search me, I pray and know my hear today. Cleanse me from every sin and make me new. Give me a heart that hides your word, and bears the fruit of righteousness.

The Soil – Part 3

I greet you, how are you? Did you take some time to examine the rocks and boulders in your heart? Have you allowed the Lord to start breaking each one? Has the mirror of the word revealed YOU to you? How many has the hammer pounded down so far? May you find more grace for the rest, yes?

Well, I did my own introspection. I had a few aha! moments – Isn’t it amazing what happens when we allow the Word of God free reign in our lives? Anyway, as i was examining my own rocks and boulders, i started to meditate on the third type of soil – the one covered in barbed wire [sengenge ni ng’ombe] and thorns.

My grandmother [of blessed memory] was an amazing woman. One of the many things i miss about her is the sound of her laughter and, the sound of her clicking her tongue in exclamation. You know that click that does not quite leave the lips but is loud enough for you to hear? Yes, that one. Back in those days, we used to grow pyrethrum, finger millet, millet, tea, maize and beans. I remember whenever my grandmother finished sowing the finger millet, we had to cover the patches closest to the path with briers, or thorns to protect the area from our little feet and the livestock that wandered freely around the homestead. So as the finger millet germinated and grew, we would move the thorns out of the way, otherwise, the crop would not flourish.

In Mark 4, the Bible says that as the sower continued to scatter the seed, some fell on thorny soil. Jesus later, in Vs 18, says this of the seeds and the soil:

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

You know, all things being equal, fertile soil can grow anything. So i believe that the seeds that landed here actually sank roots and started to grow. The problem was that as the seeds grew, thorns that may have been left unattended or thrown carelessly around sprang back to life and also took root, only much faster than the seed. So, by the time the seeds germinated, the thorns were tall enough to strangle the life out of the growing seeds. Oh my… I’ve just remembered this funny video that has been making rounds of a young man who when asked to write an essay using the words “ghafla bin hu” [suddenly] quickly starts jotting down his essay, only that it in our story, he’d would probably write- ” Ghafla bin hu, wezi wenye miraba minne na silaha kali wali vamia wale mbegu na kuwanyonga!!” [Loosely translated – Suddenly, armed thorns pounced on the seeds, attacked them and strangled them to death”].

As Jesus later explains the parable, we get to understand what the thorns represent – the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things.

You know, as i think about this and look around me, I am of the honest opinion that Jesus was describing this generation. Why? Because we are the generation that witnessed the dawn of the new millennium and the technological advancements that followed [oh…. do you remember a program that used to show on KBC called “Beyond 2000” ? And how we thought the robots would take over?]

But even sadder for me, is the fact that this generation has postulated, venerated and, i dare say, manifested the worship of self. One of the most popular mantras is “Do you babe, the world will adjust”. We’re constantly competing and comparing ourselves with the next person, or their position, network and net worth. While there is a lot of good in this increased sense of self awareness, we are as a direct consequence, walking dangerously close to falling over the edge of life and into death. Did you realise we now have pastel labels for sin? What about our relentless pursuit of wealth, and, all costs?

With all these, when do we suppose, the word of God will grow to fruitfulness? We are so busy that we hardly have time to meditate on the word of God and allow it to take root in our lives! When was the last time you sat and actually studied the word. Not read a chapter in traffic or listened on the app while driving or cooking. No. I mean the old fashioned way – silence, pen, paper and Bible. When did you take time to cross reference scripture for a deeper understanding of its context and examined for yourself, not through Joyce Meyer or Priscilla Shirer, but for yourself how the word applies to your day to day? When last did we commit the word to memory? I mean large chunks of scripture. Yet we somehow have time to commit pages of songs to memory [Ouch!]. By the way, which authority do you quote more – the Living Word or your favourite author?

Sadly, as this trend takes root, you soon realise that as much as you are a Christian, Christ is not really the Head. And even worse, is that the soon enough, all we will see of our lives is a stunted crop covered in thorns. And do you know what, there is a determined end for such soil – fire.

So, dear brethren, what are we to do? Good question. I thing the answer is incredibly simple. Since Jesus already identified the thorns for us, what’s left of us is to do some serious weeding. How? By allowing the sword of his word free reign in our hearts to cut off, uproot and dig up the thorns. Simply put – study the word, meditate on it, let it cleanse you, correct you and burn the weeds, break the boulders and soften the land. Let the word dwell in you richly. Then and only then, can we begin to manifest the characteristics of fertile soil.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for loving us so much that you do not leave us to our own ways. As i study your word, i invite your Holy Spirit to be my teacher and counsellor. Remove the thorns and thistles, rocks and boulders and soften my heart so that my life may be a fruitful field. Amen