Soil of the Heart - Part One

“A garden is only as good as its soil.”

This gardening proverb is power-packed with spiritual truth.

Even if a seed is perfect, if it is planted in uncultivated soil, it will not grow. In the same way, the seed of the Word of God must be sown into good soil if it is ever going to produce lasting fruit.

Even though the soil has no influence on the quality or ability of the seed, it does determine whether or not the seed will be effective.

The soil of our hearts influences the effectiveness of God’s Word in our lives.

Jesus communicates this in the parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-9 (also Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, and Luke 8:4-15). He gives four kinds of ground on which the seed (God’s Word) falls.

The first is sown among the path, and the seed is quickly devoured by the birds.

The pathway is so hardened that it literally cannot absorb the seed; this is why the birds so quickly devour the seed. The pathway refers to unbelievers (Luke 8:12).

The pathway’s resistance to the seed can be likened to a spiritually hardened heart. If you are not a Christian, you may identify with not being able to understand or agree with the entirety of the Bible. As a result, your frustration with certain parts of the Bible leads to your complete resistance to the whole of it.

If you are a Christian, there are still important truths we can draw from the pathway. It’s important for us to remember that we still have the natural human tendency within us to resist God’s truth. As human beings, we naturally believe our judgment is best and right and good, but as Christians, we must be careful to keep ourselves in a place of receptivity, not resistance.

Wherever we are on the spiritual journey, if we desire to know God, we must till, or loosen, the soil of our hearts.

The way that we do this is by loosening our grip on our inherent need to be right. If we approach the Bible with our opinions completely formed, having no sensitivity or openness to God’s judgments, then we will miss so many truths that God longs to plant in our hearts. We cannot receive the seed of the Word if we are like the path, hardened and resistant.

Isaiah 55:8 might be the hardest verse to receive in all of the Bible: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways (Isaiah 55:8, NIV). How could there be a God who doesn’t think like me? How could there be a God who’s reasoning is better than mine?

We can’t come to the Word with a closed mind and decided opinions. If we want to understand the Word, we must be open to anything and everything God has spoken.

Truths we don’t like. Views we don’t have. Ways that are completely opposite of ours.

We must be open to it all.

We cannot be so firm in our opinions and judgments that nothing - not even the very Word of God - can permeate our spirit.

Many of us were sensitive in the moment of salvation, but we returned to our resistance because of certain teachings of the Word or certain circumstances in our lives. “I just can’t believe in a God who would do this or that.” Or, “I don’t believe there’s a God in heaven because if there is, He wouldn’t have allowed this to happen to me.”

While those statements are understandable and often completely justifiable, based on this parable of Jesus, we can conclude that a hardened heart will not yield a fruitful life.

Even if we go to church and read the Bible, but we still have a closed heart, Satan will completely devour any life we could have received from the Word that we heard. He’s the bird that is flying overhead watching and waiting to swoop down and devour the truth so that it does not take root in our lives.

If we want to receive the seed sown, we must yield to its authority as the very Word of God.

As a farmer aerates the soil before planting, so we must be intentional about aerating the soil of our hearts. We must-

Be sensitive. Be open. And listen.

This is how we work some breathability into the soil of our hearts, creating space for God to come in and breathe His life into us.

Our meager offering of openness and humility - a heart that cries that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that His judgements need no human approval - will always be met with His presence and power in our lives.

Jesus, thank You that I can approach You as I am. You don’t require me to be perfect or agree with everything You say in order to begin seeking You. But I know that if I’m ever going to know You, then my heart has to be receptive and impressionable. Help me to loosen the soil of my heart, acknowledging that a God who sits on the forever throne knows more than I do. Help me to be open to Your Word, for that is the first step to understanding the mystery that is You. I trust that Your Word is truth because You are God. Amen.