Monday, July 11, 2011
more father than farmer
well, just as i was "rediscovering" my voice last week, life hit me with a curveball right in the larynx, and i lost it again. ouch.
thanks for the patience.
this has been a strange summer for me, and it doesn't figure to get any more normal with the birth of our third son two-ish weeks away. it's been a blast, don't get me wrong, but there's also been no routine to it, and i feel like i have some sort of schedule vertigo. i barely know what day it is, and when i do look at the calendar it appears to be spinning in circles around july 23rd (the due date). maybe august will be a bit more regular? probably not.
in the meantime, i keep trying to maintain as many of the rhythms of my days and weeks as i can. i preached this week, for example, which is a good thing since it is my job! i preached on the parable of the sower from matthew 13. i preached on an angle of the story that i hadn't really invested much thought in before: the sower is terrible at sowing. i mean, just look at what he does! he takes large handfuls of seed (a fairly precious resource which costs to acquire) and seems to be just tossing them aimlessly about. how else does some of the seed end up on the road? (any farmer would tell you that you've got to be a bit more careful with your seed than that). some of this sower's seed ends up in the gravel, where it has no chance. and still more of it ends up in the weeds and thornbushes. this is absurd! we sometimes miss this when we hear the story, but we ought to be surprised at how bad, how wasteful, how careless the sower is. i mean, what kind of sower is this?
and then later in matthew 13 Jesus tells us exactly what kind of sower it is. it's God. wait, what? really? this amateur seed-planter is supposed to be God? (here is where the parable turns our expectations upside down, as parables do). why is God so bad at sowing seed? why wouldn't God find the good ground, clear any weeds and debris, till the ground, plant the seeds and then water that particular area, to ensure a healthy crop?
here's why: because that's not how God's extravagant love works. God loves each and everyone of us. not just the ones who are ready to respond. not just the ones who do good things or go to church. not just the ones who say the right things. God pours out abundant life on all God's children, whether we look ready for it or not, even though we don't deserve it. God isn't waiting for us to get our stuff together, or to finally get over our bad habits or perpetual sin. God isn't waiting until we get out of debt, or finally start reading our bible. God isn't waiting for the soil of our lives to finally be suitable for seed-growing. God is just throwing seeds of love and truth and grace at us with indiscriminate extravagance all the time.
how are we receiving it?
because if we think we already know what we need to know, or if we are trying to manage on our own, or if we are too distracted to notice, then we are like the road, the gravel, and the thornbushes. what God is recklessly planting in us has no chance to become a part of us. but if we are open to it; if we are willing to receive new ideas and fresh questions; if we are open to different directions and possibilities; if we dare to risk being loved completely, in all our brokenness, then we will find seeds of hope and joy and life and peace germinating and taking root in our lives in unexpected ways because the One who is more father than farmer is planting all this in us like we're the only ground that matters.
how will i receive it?
God of the planting the growing,
thank you for your extravagant love, which even now is pouring over me. if you had waited until i was ready to receive or understand it, you would never have given it. but because you are such a reckless sower, i am covered in growing grace. forgive me for the ways in which the soil of my life is still too dry, too rocky, and too thorny. help me to be open to whatever you offer me, to be diligent and persistent in sticking with you, and to cut down the distractions that choke out my life. amen.