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Preparing for growth

This week's Religion column looks at rain as a symbol for new life
spring flowers

Well, maybe spring is around the corner as the clocks were set ahead and we actually received rain this past Sunday. l don’t know about you but our household can't wait to see spring flowers.The season of spring is upon us as some of us may be growing our tomato plants inside from seedlings. Won’t it be nice to see green grass again and bees pollinating?

With the change in season, we may soon prepare our soil for seed. Presently, the earth is a bit frozen but when the time is right we will get out our rototillers and begin the process of planting. We may not be farmers and understand all the processes involved in producing a crop but I am sure we all have a general knowledge of the basics. It rains, the earth is prepared, the seed is planted, it rains, the seed germinates into a plant, it rains and the plant produces its fruit and the process starts all over again.

So it is that we will soon see April showers which bring May flowers.These rains are crucial in preparing the soil for seed in the process of  plant growth. In ancient Israel, rain was a symbol of God's blessing in this predominantly agricultural nation. The nation of ancient Israel to this present day experiences basically two seasons: a rainy season and a dry season.
The rainy season for Israel is from December to April inclusive, which progresses from a light rain to a heavy rain. These rains are referred to in the bible ( Joel 2:23 ) as the former and latter rains. The lighter rains from December to March are referred to as YOREH.This light rain falls on the dry earth, opens cracks and softens the soil in order to receive seed. This rain fosters the seed, causing stalk growth.The latter rains from March to April are referred to as MALKOSH and are a heavier rain that assists the stalk in producing grain for harvest. It is interesting to note the order of these rains as a heavy rain while planting would wash the seed away with no chance of a harvest.

Obviously, this is a faith article and we are taking a look at how the Gospel is presented to us through nature's processes. Having said such, we see Jesus explaining the Gospel truth in terms that an agricultural community would understand in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20 and Luke 8:4-15. These scriptures are referred to as the parable of the sower or parable of the soils. 

To paraphrase this parable, a sower of seed spreads seed on four various soils. Some fall on a path, a rock, among thorns and on good soil. The parable ends in Jesus advising that the only seed that survives is that in which the soil is declared as good soil. In explaining the parable, Jesus advises that the seed is the word of God or the truth of the Gospel and the soil is the various hearts that hear the Word of God. 

The seed that falls on the path represents those that hear the Gospel message but do not understand. Maybe they are not able to wrap their hearts around the idea that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. At this crucial point, the enemy of doubt is strong and steals any notion of watering this seed with further Gospel truth.

The seed that falls on rocky soil is that in which the Gospel message is received with great enthusiasm but takes no root. There seems to be a liking for the truth as long as nothing is required of us. The Gospel truth does require us to humble ourselves and live a life unto Christ, which at times will bring trouble or persecution. Unfortunately, there are those that will fall away when these storms of life appear.

The seed that falls on thorny soil is that in which the Gospel message is squeezed out by the worries of life and the deceitfulness of riches. It may be that we may find it difficult when our faith is tested so we go back to worry and rely on our own self-sufficiencies.       

The seed that falls on good soil hears the Gospel message and understands it. As a result, this is a crop-yielding seed. This is the seed that overcomes all those obstacles as mentioned about the other soils of our hearts.

If we are to take an honest inventory of our life, I am sure at times our hearts may have seemed like that hard pathway, rocky soil or soil of thorns. This has truly been my journey and thanks to God, He never gave up on me. So today I would encourage us all as He continues to gently work on our hearts as this new season approaches in our life. Just as Israel receives its former and latter rains, God in His faithfulness still continues to send the gospel rains of love to prepare the soils of our hearts to receive His son, Jesus Christ. May our hearts receive this message of life, love and hope as the newness of the spring season is upon us. 

Clint Sears

About the Author: Clint Sears

Pastor Clint Sears holds service once a month at the Port Robinson Community Centre
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