The Volunteer Watermelon

18 “Consider then the parable of the farmer. 19 Whenever people hear the word about the kingdom and don’t understand it, the evil one comes and carries off what was planted in their hearts. This is the seed that was sown on the path. 20 As for the seed that was spread on rocky ground, this refers to people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. 21 Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away. 22 As for the seed that was spread among thorny plants, this refers to those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 23 As for what was planted on good soil, this refers to those who hear and understand, and bear fruit and produce—in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one.” (Matthew 13:18-23, Common English Bible)

Before I went into the ministry, Cindy, our boys, and I spent a year living in my maternal grandparent’s house. My grandfather had Parkinson’s Disease and they moved in with one of my aunts for help in his care. Our role was to live in the house and take care of things while my grandmother decided what she was going to do with the house.

One day I was in the backyard and saw these strange looking leaves growing in the center of the yard. Right there in the back yard, surrounded completely by St. Augustine grass. I really thought it was a weed.

I didn’t bother me. It wasn’t poison ivy or anything. I mowed around it. We moved there in early August. While I didn’t do anything to kill it, I also didn’t encourage it. If you know about Texas and August, it is hot and generally there usually isn’t much rain. I wasn’t helping either.

A few weeks later I looked again and saw three small watermelons on that vine. I saw my grandmother a few days later and said, “I have watermelon growing in the backyard.”

She said she and my grandfather had eaten watermelon out there at the beginning of the summer. They picked seeds out and spit seeds out that fell to the ground. Some took root and grew. Those three watermelons never got big or ripe.

I understand that farmers call those watermelons “volunteers.” They weren’t planted, they grew on their own.

At times in my life, when I think of “The Parable of the Soils,” why would anyone plant where it would seem there is so much more bad soil than good soil. Of course I knew that, at least in theory, that is all the land some people have that they can use for planting. If they want to eat, they have to use what they have.

Several years ago I made a couple of trips to Heifer Ranch in Arkansas. There they experiment with many different soils for farming in different parts of the world. I saw them trying to make so many different soils effective for planting.

Of course when Jesus tells this parable he has an explanation for each element of the story. He tells that the thorns choke out some, some fall on the path were they are useless. Others start to grow but don’t establish a good root system and wither in the harsh environment. But others, the ones planted in good soil take root and yield a crop.

In this year when we seem to have so much going on, could we be seeing all the soils existing around us? There is so much going on in 2020 and if you are anything like me, I am past ready for this year to be over and we are barely half way through what is obviously a difficult time. Before the first quarter was over we were facing a lock down from a global pandemic. We have seen racial unrest like we haven’t seen since the 1960s. We have endured politicians and their usual election year rhetoric (that assuredly will get worse before it gets better). Now we are facing a rebound of the virus that seems to grow almost exponentially each day. It would seem on the news every night there is some new threat. And, I haven’t mentioned any of our personal crises.

The good news is, the Church has worked finding new and creative ways to share the Gospel and love of Jesus with this hurting world. From internet worship and drive-in services to blocking off every other pew for face-to-face worship, and so more the Church scatters seeds!

Some seeds land in the path and birds eat them. They aren’t taking root and never will. Some land in rocky areas. People dig in but won’t root well. Some grow in tight places that can’t survive like seeds rooted in thorns. But, know this, God is working among people and some seeds will land in good soil. These are ones that God sends our way who put down roots. They will grow and make a difference for the Kingdom.

May such be the case for all of us.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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