Enduring Soil

Now while a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from every city, he said in a parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, were trampled on, and birds from the sky ate them up.  fell on stony ground, and as soon as they came up, they dried up because they had no moisture. Others fell among thorn bushes, and the thorn bushes grew with them and choked them. But others fell on good soil, and when they came up, they produced 100 times as much as was planted.” As he said this, he called out, “Let the person who has ears to hear, listen!”

Then his disciples began to him what this parable meant. 10 So he said, “You have been given about the secrets of the of God. But to others they are given in parables, so that

‘they might look but not see,
    and they might listen but not understand.’”

11 “Now this is what the parable means. The seed is God’s 12 The ones on the path are the people who listen, but then the Devil comes and takes the word away from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 The ones on the stony ground are the people who joyfully welcome the word when they hear it. But since they don’t have any roots, they believe for a while, but in a time of testing they fall away. 14 The ones that fell among the thorn bushes are the people who listen, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries, wealth, and pleasures of life, and their fruit doesn’t mature. 15 But the ones on the good soil are the people who hear the word but also hold on to it with good and honest hearts, producing a crop through endurance.”

Luke 8:4–15 ISV

Reading the Scriptures (i.e., The Holy Bible) daily continues to bring my . It fills some of my curiosity, and often drives my researching desires. As a habit, I read a different translation each year for my daily readings (versus sermon prep). This year it is the ISV.

Part of my rationale is that I believe it helps me see the same Scriptures differently. Whether it’s phrasing or vocabulary or punctuation, something gets triggered (in a good way) in my brain.

I’ve read the Parable of the Sower many times. I’ve preached on it. Heard plenty of sermons on it. Verse 15 hit me today.

What struck me this time, in particular, was “endurance”. When you go back and re-read the parable, endurance makes sense. It may indeed be the point of the entire parable (not saying it is).

Endurance

Endurance and resiliency are the new corporate buzz words coming out of COVID lockdowns and remote work. The church has started to focus on them, too. It’s not a bad thing. Developing resilience might actually make the world a better place.

Perhaps, instead of feeling attacked or belittled, instead…we endure. The good soil is the soil that endures.

In church, we’ll often talk about the “good soil”. What is the “good” soil? We’ll talk about the Christian that overcomes adversity. We’ll talk about the one that doesn’t contain thorns and briars. We’ll about the one that doesn’t contain stones.

Even when we talk about the good soil, we don’t often focus on the endurance. It’s not the soil’s fertility that is the source. It is the endurance.

We don’t like to talk about endurance, because generally that comes along with difficulty. We see on the internet (and even, gasp, in bookstores) the latest book with the latest vital skill set that we must have today. There is the latest shortcut (with and without AI), so that we can get what ever it is done faster, and so we can minimize the time we experience difficulty.

In other words, we avoid requiring endurance.

Training

Athelete’s train. Anyone who regularly participates in activity trains. Training produces endurance. We seem to get that when it comes to physicality. We actually do get it mentally with our focus on education. Even that, though, is often about regurgitation and not thinking. Rote and regurgitation do not produce mental endurance.

We are truly awful about endurance when it comes to emotional, and (especially) spiritual. I’m still trying to figure out what happend with the emotional part. I don’t think that the “stiff upper lip” (British) or stoic (Germanic) tendencies and patterns were always healthy. Often they led to people burying their feelings. So, for those that claim “those were the days”…I disagree.

It’s easy to blame the internet (currently) or television (previously), but is that really true? Have we really forgotten how to healthily emotionally endure, or did we just have yet another mask we wore?

We have mental health counselors as a growing field (need far outweighs practitioners). I do think they are necessary because we have done such a poor job of being trained and training others.

This also pours over into spiritual endurance. This is not about spiritual abuse, but just the straightforward to endure trials, perceived unanswered , and the horrors of a fallen world, without one’s faith being crushed.

Just Believe

Just believe is very similar to rote and regurgitational mental learning. It does not produce endurance. We struggle with endurance. I know I do. It’s okay to acknowledge that you struggle with endurance.

The beauty of the current cultural emphasis on endurance (or resilience) is that the community of faith (i.e., the church universal) can talk about it, too. Think about it. We have the ability to faithfully talk about God and an enduring faith, while the world is also struggling with endurance. There’s the open door…will you walk through it?

Prayer

God, we know that we are called to endure. We see throughout the Scriptures you provided examples of enduring faith from flawed human beings just like us. We know through the witness of Jesus, that you understand our struggles, including our struggle to endure. Holy , please help us be the enduring soil that produces faith in ourselves and others. Amen.