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  • Chris Crosby

Clay and Rocky Soil

The clay kept sticking to the shovel, slowing down the gardening. My husband and I were adding nutrients and compost to the soil to enhance the landscape bed for new flowers and bushes. Turning the soil over proved exhausting as the very heavy clay kept clinging to the shovel. Every couple of shovelfuls would require a scraping of the tool. We knew the plants would flourish if we could improve the condition of the soil, so we continued adding the nutrients and pulling most of the clay out of the beds and throwing it away.

As we dug out the clay, I was reminded of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-8). “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

The clay we encountered in our gardening was like the stony ground in Jesus’ parable. Although the plants grew, they could not develop deep roots as they fought the clay and searched for nutrients that don’t exist in that soil. The clay makes plant survival challenging during drought conditions.

Jesus tells us the meaning of the parable in Matthew 13:18-23. In verses 20 and 21, He explains the rocky soil. “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

To prevent stumbling, we must develop deep roots. We tend the soil of our hearts, removing the stones, clay, and other inhibitors that prevent our foundation from going deep. What rocks prevent us from deepening our roots? Is it fear, unforgiveness, anger, shame, or a lack of understanding of God’s promises? Whatever is impeding our growth, we must dive deep into Scripture seeking out what God says and pulling down the lies and strongholds holding our thoughts captive (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

If we take the time to properly condition the soil of our hearts through study and application of Scripture, God’s Word (His seed) becomes strongly established in our lives. Then, when trials come, we flourish and do not stumble. Let’s ask God to reveal what stones need to be removed from our lives and start the excavation today. The investment in enriching the ground of our hearts will yield a bountiful harvest with great reward.

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