Hearts of Flesh – Br. James Koester

Matthew 13: 18 – 23
I tried this once, and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Whether or not we come from farming, or gardening backgrounds, we all read the parable of the sower with certain, modern assumptions about farming techniques. We assume modern, or at least rudimentary equipment that can plough, and till the soil, preparing it for seeding, which is then done carefully, accurately, and evenly. But it’s not as easy as that.

As I discovered in the kitchen garden, soil can be different in one part of the garden, than it is in another. In just a few feet, you can go from sandy, well-drained soil, to another that is full of clay, and so the rain runs off without penetrating the surface. No matter how well you prepare the soil, it takes great skill for a farmer, or gardener, to develop optimum soil conditions over time. And that is even before you sow the seed.

It was only with the invention of the seed drill in 1701, that farmers could plant a field with any degree of accuracy. Until then, the common method of planting was the broadcast method, which meant the farmer simply cast the seed about as he walked over the field. The end result was an uneven planting, with lots of seed here, and a few seeds there, and depending on the farmer’s aim, some seed was bound to get where the farmer did not necessarily want it.

I tried this once at Emery House, and that’s exactly what happened. In some places the carrots were so thickly sown, that after they sprouted there was not enough space for the air to circulate, and so they rotted from dampness. A few weeks later I also found carrots struggling to emerge, not in the carrot patch, but in the path. It was only in other places that I actually got any carrots worth harvesting.

And that’s where we find ourselves today, except the field is not the garden at Emery House rather it is our hearts. There too, we discover the soil of our hearts is hard, full of rocks, and infested with weeds. Only in some places is it well drained, rich, and able to produce in abundance.

It seems to me that the invitation today is simply to pay attention, as I did to that carrot patch, noticing where things were rotting from too much damp, and not enough air; where things are struggling because the soil was too impacted and hard; where things are flourishing, because the conditions were just right.

It’s only when we pay attention to the good, and the bad; the rich and abundant, and the rocky and hard; that we can begin to pray with Ezekiel that God will take from us hearts of stone and give to us hearts of flesh[1] so that we may produce abundantly, in some cases thirty fold, in some cases sixty fold, and in some cases a hundred fold,[2] so that the seed, sown in our hearts, is not wasted.

[1] Ezekiel 36:26

[2] Matthew 13: 23

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  1. Chris Low on July 31, 2020 at 06:12

    Beautiful! Thank you Brother James. Being a gardener, I know from experience that all you said is true. Wonderful analogy to the “soil in our hearts.” Pay attention ….just as we amend soil, so can we amend the soil of our heart.

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