Back in the stone ages when I was first learning to drive, my mother and I had gone to a nearby city. At the time I had only my learners permit and I was all of fourteen or fifteen. Being a farm kid, I had driven the lawn mower, go carts, mini bikes and even the family car down the quiet rock road in front of our farm, but didn’t have much town experience and I needed to practice so my Mother let me drive, God bless her.
I wanted to impress my Mom and I certainly did not want to have an accident. I used to be a I can do it myself sort of a gal (a former character flaw) and I was driving along totally focused on the street and the big old four door sedan I was piloting. I don’t know exactly how long it took, but at some point, I realized I heard a siren. Looking in the rear-view mirror I saw an ambulance with its lights flashing right behind me. I have no doubt that by this time the driver was wondering what sort of idiot was not getting out of the way and had begun blowing his horn at me. I was paralyzed. I had no idea what to do. I hadn’t taken drivers education yet. By now the driver is now “whoop whooping” the siren at me. Mom calmly suggested I pull into the right lane and slow down or stop. The ambulance driver finally gets around me (much to his relief I have no doubt). And I pull off and let my mom drive the rest of the way.
Why had I not heard the siren? My hearing worked just fine.
Why had I not seen the flashing lights? I wasn’t blind because my mother let me behind the wheel of the car.
Why were my senses oblivious to the obvious?
Jesus is concerned with our senses of hearing and seeing. During his time on earth he told the crowds and his followers about a farmer who sowed seeds. As soon as he is done telling the story he calls out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Later he tells another story and concludes with the words ” Consider carefully how you listen.” Later when told that his Mother and brothers were waiting outside for him, he says, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice.” I wonder how his mother felt about that. Later he calls many of the religious leaders the blind leading the blind who fall into a ditch. That doesn’t sound like a complement to me.
Jesus is right here with us with lights flashing, sirens wailing and horns blowing and his very great concern is that we are not seeing or hearing the truth, that we are both blind and deaf (and for me I will add dumb, and I don’t mean dumb in the sense that I am unable to talk but in the ‘duh’ sense). He sounds the alarm because our very lives depend upon it, both right now today and in the long stretch of eternity. Perhaps that is exactly the point of the parable of the sower, we hear but we aren’t listening and if we do hear we aren’t putting into practice what he is suggesting we do, and he is concerned for us and our souls. If we hear God’s Word, we must practice and live it out or what is the point?
Let me be quite clear about one thing before we proceed. The thing that makes following Jesus Christ so very different from all other religions is that in every single other religious world view the entry into paradise or heaven is dependent on what I do in order to make things right between God and I. Christianity is based on who I know and whether or not I accept the free gift of grace being offered and choose to enter into a personal relationship with God who paid the price to make things right. I must believe the giver of the gift is who he says he is and accept the gift. I don’t receive it unless I accept it. Nothing I could ever do would earn it. My point is, this isn’t about being good to be saved, but our goodness is the by product of receiving the gift of grace and forgiveness.
In my lifetime I have been every one of the four types of listeners he describes in the parable of the sower. 1) I have heard the word and it didn’t even have a chance to grow because I listened to the guy with red tail and pitchfork on my left shoulder and his seductive voice instead of God’s.
2) I have received God’s Word with joy but since I chose not to practice it in my daily round, it sounded more like “Wank, wank, wank.” I was too lazy to study it and it quickly withered within me.
3) I have definitely been the seed that fell among the thorns and God’s Word has been choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures. Just like driving the car that day when I was totally focused on the street and piloting the family car I could see and hear nothing else. Not even a siren right behind me. I have been that way in my wicked living, marriage obsession, child raising, career idolatry, fitness frenzy and my money will save me worship. The world has had me by the throat or should I say by the eyes and the ears, mouth and worst of all heart. I have been blind, deaf and dumb, guilty, guilty, guilty.
Today, I do a little better job at both listening and practicing because I passionately, with all my heart, want to be the last seed sown, 4) the seed on the good soil which, which takes root and grows into one with noble and good heart, who hears, retains, and produces a harvest. A harvest of what? Becoming a reflection of Christ to those around me so they want him too. I only get to keep it if I give it away.
How did I get to be a better driver? I took driver’s education and I drove and drove and drove; I practiced. I follow (most of the time) the rules and laws of the road.
How do I produce a harvest for Christ? I read and study God’s Word, fellowship with other believers and pass the good news on to others by scattering seeds. I practice my faith by living it out, and most importantly, my senses are no longer oblivious to the obvious because I choose to pull over and let my Father be the one in the driver’s seat.
Which causes me to:
Be joy filled always,