Attending primary school in Scotland in the 60s meant that you would see yourself with your classmates in church at least twice a year, Christmas and Easter (and maybe “Harvest”!) Jamestown Parish Church and Alexandria North in the Vale of Leven were the leading venues. I remember that they used to get one of the older kids to read a few verses of Scripture. Their accents would invariable change whenever this happened. It was strange to hear them pronounce the Ts, but even stranger to hear the Thys, Thous and Thines.
Anyhow, I began thinking about all of this last week because of the first line of a hymn we must have sung and some of these church services: “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land…” It was rattling around in my head. I couldn’t remember what came next. I’d had a tough week and had to deal with someone who had just discovered that his wife had been having an adulterous affair. Heartrending!
Now, it seems to me as a Christian that God tends to meet us when our life is on the skids. He sits with us in the rubble and ruins of our life that has just caved in. There among the dust and debris He draws near to us. Here He gets our attention. Now we are ready to listen. It is with people in this demolished condition that I like to sow the seed of God’s Word. The field has newly been ploughed. The land awaits the scattering of the good seed.
Now that I’m an adult I’m in the habit of attending church every Sunday. This particular Sunday I didn’t make it to my regular church (which is a twenty-five minute drive) but instead went to a church next to where I live. They had a guest preacher visiting from America, one Kevin Harney. Guess what he was preaching on? Yes, scattering the good seed, i.e., sharing the Good News about Jesus. Kevin described a town parade in the States where, as the floats passed by, kids would throw candies (lollies) into the crowds containing many children. Some of the kids on floats would be stingy and throw out one candy at a time to particular children while others would just chuck out handfuls indiscriminately into the crowds. He used this to illustrate The Parable of the Sower:
“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” Luke 8:5-8a.
Kevin asked what farmer in his right mind would scatter valuable seed willy-nilly on rocky ground or ground full of weeds, yet this is what the Lord would have us do with His Good News! He said none of us are smart enough to always recognise good soil!
Lesson for me: Stop being so selective. Stop trying to be a soil-specialist! And stop being like one of the stingy kids on the parade float but rather “scatter” the Gospel!
“We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land…”