Plow the Rocky Places
We are in the middle of a series based on the Parable of the Soils. Last week we focused on plowing the hard places through prayer (if you missed it I encourage you to check it out here). This week we are going to focus on the rocky places.
I absolutely love baptism Sunday at our church! It is by far my favorite day of the month. There is something thrilling about watching new believers (or old believers with a new understanding) willingly die to themselves in the water and be raised new creations in Christ. My heart soars with every powerful baptism that I have the privilege to witness, but amid the celebration, I find myself praying that they will have the strength to endure. I have seen far too many people come out of the water to then succumb to the attack that followed, their growth withering and dying before they were ever able to bear fruit.
My own baptism was the best moment of my life, trumping my wedding, subsequent vow renewal, and even the birth of my daughters. It was more than a public declaration of my faith, it was a shedding of my old life. It was the death of the old Amanda and the birth of the new one. I came out of that water different, transformed and I have never gone back. But, oh, how that old life tried to call to me from its watery grave!
I have walked through many trials since I surrendered my life to Jesus, but one of the most intense was after I was baptized. The enemy was relentless and I was fighting for this beautiful new life that I was given by facing a resistance that I had never before experienced. The growth that I had made was under siege and I was bombarded with the siren's song of my old life. I was blessed to be surrounded by a group of godly examples who had walked this path before me. They helped me to pick up the rocks that had been dislodged by the plow, making way for my roots to grow deeper into the One that saved me, not just by their words but modeled with their actions. Had it not been for these examples I wouldn’t have known that the trials and tribulations didn’t have to define me, that they could instead make me stronger and look more like Jesus.
Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. - Matthew 13:5-6 NASB
It was not the rocks that brought the ultimate demise to the plants. It was the sun. They were not able to absorb the proper moisture because they had never developed a productive root system. They could not endure the very thing necessary for their growth. Due to a lack of preparation, the thing sent to grow them killed them instead.
In His explanation of the parable in Matthew 13:20-21, Jesus said, “The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word.” Luke adds, “They fall away when they face temptation.” So the sun represents problems, persecution, and temptation.
So how do we plow the rocky soil? By becoming the example of a life rooted in Christ. Part of our great commission is to make disciples but there is little value to a “do as I say not as I do” discipleship approach. Our words hold little influence if they are not backed up with consistent action. Our purity and integrity, especially in the face of our own problems, persecution, and temptation are what show those coming after us that they can stand firm in their own.
Glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. - Romans 5:3-4
As humans, we often tend to avoid our problems and tribulations like the plague. We run and hide, and lament and gripe our way through them, all the while missing the growth that God wants to bring as a result of them. When I first came across Romans 5:3-4, I desperately needed some hope. So I backtracked to see how I was supposed to get it: by obtaining character. I needed that too, so how did I get character? Perseverance through tribulation. To me that sounded like a pretty convoluted way to arrive at hope, but what did I know? So I tried it. I stopped waiting God out and instead choose to glory in my tribulation. It made me a woman of character and gave me a steady hope in the face of all of my problems and persecutions. But my hope isn’t just for me, it is to inspire hope in those around me. Our hope shows others that they can have hope too.
2 Corinthians 5:20 calls us “Christ's ambassadors.” That's a big title for an even bigger responsibility. See we aren't just ambassadors of Christ when we are teaching a Sunday school class or leading a small group. We are ambassadors when we are running errands, when we are on our jobs, and most importantly when we are in our homes surrounded by our family.
So now my friends it’s time to take an honest look at ourselves. Are we allowing our problems to define us or are we allowing God to grow us through them? It doesn’t matter how many times we proclaim to the thirsty that they will never have to thirst again if we are a shriveled plant ourselves. Do you want to plow the rocky soil? Then make sure that you have established a root system that can withstand and a life that beckons the dry to come and be filled.
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. - Colossians 2:6-7
Written by Amanda Strauser