Tag Archives: Parable of the Sower

Rock Gardens and Deep Roots for Spiritual Growth

This summer we actually went shopping for rocks! As you might expect, it’s not hard to find rocks here along the Front Range of the Rockies. In fact a lot of landscaping is done with small rock to conserve water and with larger rock, known here as river rock, for those areas prone to run off in sudden mountain thunderstorms.

But I wanted rocks with character for a small garden area with perennial flowers, a birdbath, and bird houses. Hence the actual shopping and payment of $. We found some medium-sized rocks with lichen, brought them home and placed them in pleasing arrangements, then planted day lilies, daisies, cone flowers, and a butterfly bush.

 

 

 

 

 

Not long afterwards, Molly and I walked along a path where rocks had spilled over from some construction work. It was a dry area with no irrigation or sprinklers like parks or our back yard.

Here I discovered God had thought of rock gardens way before us and created some wildflowers that could survive in the dry, rocky soil. Even with their shallow root system, this year’s abundant rain has made these yellow and pink flowers a refreshing sight and reminded me of the diversity of God’s creation. (The colors are pretty hard to see in the photo, but they were there!)

But soon the rains will mostly end, and at this altitude of about 5, 000 feet, the sun will sear these plants as if they were on a grill at a summer cook out.

A rainfall will revive them, but they will never grow tall.

Not so in our garden. We dug deep holes so our plants would have room for their roots to grow deep to provide support and sustenance when rains are sparse and hard winds blow (which is most of the time around here). The plants are already tall and bright.

Here again is Durer’s painting the Great Piece of Turf, and if you look closely, you’ll see he has allowed some roots to show at the base of the plants. Perhaps he was thinking of the Parable of the Sower when he did that.

A Large Piece of Turf by Albrecht Durer, public domain

In that parable (Matt. 13:1-23) Jesus compares different kinds of soil to the hearts of different people and how they receive God’s Word.

He said that like plants in rocky soil that don’t have deep roots, people without deep roots in God’s Word will fall away when trouble comes.

And trouble will come in this broken world—the strong winds of personal loss, the drought of being without a job, the searing heat of a difficult relationship—and at those times our hearts need God’s healing words and promises deeply rooted to sustain us.

Just as in our garden we dug deep so our plants could develop deep roots, that’s the best way to begin to develop deep scriptural rootsdig deep into God’s word on a regular basis. When we study God’s Word regularly we see how He cares for His people in tough times.

Most of all, we see Jesus, who came and lived among us, experiencing all this world’s troubles, but without sin. We see God’s love for us when Jesus died on the cross so we can be forgiven and become part of God’s family. We learn that Jesus, who understands our weaknesses, intercedes for us before the Father, and the Holy Spirit helps and comforts us.

What are some ways you can help your heart become good soil for God’s Word to take deep root?

What are some rocks you may need to roll out of the way just as the angel rolled away the rock from Jesus’ tomb so His disciples could see and believe in His resurrection?

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Here’s Molly in our garden and Molly sitting among the rocks and plants beside the path. What a difference deep roots make!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next post: a painting and printing project for children relating to wildflowers and gardens. Don’t miss it! Sign up to receive my posts by email.

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Guard Your Heart, a devotion based on A Young Girl Reading by Jean Honore Fragonard

A Young Girl Reading wikimedia commons

I first saw this painting on a poster I bought my first year of teaching. I loved the painting, and I especially loved the Bible verse printed on the poster. I always hung it in my classroom no matter where we moved. The verse is from Proverbs 4:23.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

The word “wellspring” really doubles down on its meaning as a source of life. The word well, something we draw water from, comes from Old English, meaning “to bubble and roll.” Spring, also from Old English, means “to come out or up with speed and force.”20150330_112626

So the picture is of the heart as a source of life that bubbles-up with a forceful or continual supply. Is this verse talking about our physical hearts, whose beats send blood around our bodies and the physical life we have because of that?

No, it’s talking about our spiritual heart—the center of our being—our innermost thoughts and desires. And life is not the life that will end in death, but eternal life.

The Lord is most concerned about that heart, because it is the heart that the Holy Spirit must change for us to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life. He changes it from a heart of stone to one of flesh so our inner most thoughts and desires change course and spring up with love for God.

20170505_122045But, wait, there’s more. Notice that the verse in Proverbs is a command, “Guard your heart….” We don’t just guard something important once and then forget it. Did Smaug in The Hobbit stop guarding his treasure? No, he slept right on top of it, and it was just gold and jewels!

 

How much more should we keep on guarding the priceless treasure of a heart that has been bought with the precious blood of Christ and now belongs to God? 

In the Sermon on the Mount, where He tells us how to live as children of God, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt.:19-21.

Paul in Colossians 3:1 says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

In Fragonard’s painting the young girl is reading a book, which can be a help to guarding her heart or not, depending, of course, on what she chooses to read or “put into her heart.”

We all make many choices each day as to what we “put into our hearts.” And today there are more ways than ever to do that— a wide variety of electronic devices to keep up with numerous social media sites, to play games, to read books, and to watch movies and TV.

How do you decide what goes into your heart? How do you guard your heart so that it is a heart that can continually bubble up in a life that honors and serves God and overflows with love for Him and others?

The place to start is spending time daily reading the Bible. Psalm 1 compares a person who spends time reading and meditating on God’s word to, “a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”

20140711_142654We also need to make wise choices about all the other things we read and view each day. In the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13) Jesus warns against letting the cares and wealth of the world choke out our faith, as weeds can choke up an untended spring or well, so it is no longer a wellspring of life.

In the comment section tell us how you and your family decide what books, websites, movies, and other media to spend time on.

Here’s one to start you off:   World, a Christian news magazine has reviews in every issue of music, movies, and adult and children’s books that are very helpful.  world.wng.org

I hope you’ll let me know in the comments whether this new format is helpful, and tell others how this blog can help adults and children enjoy and appreciate great art from a Christian perspective—as well as make some of their own!

Be sure to visit my website to see the art workshops and other types of presentations I’m available to do! See the details at:      www.kathy-oneill.com

Next Post: Activities for Digging Deeper  (based on A Young Girl Reading)

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