Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that
“‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
In this Thanksgiving season we pause to reflect on how we have responded to Your Word this year. You are the Sower, and You are always at work. We are the soil, and Your Word has fallen upon us again like seed. Your love is everlasting, and Your faithfulness is perfect; still, we struggle to give thanks in all circumstances. The challenges of this year have disrupted and stretched us, and the fruit that has been borne in our lives is not all good. Holy Spirit, would You shine Your light in our hearts and help us to see what You are doing? Would You plant Your Word deeply in us, that we might be like trees planted by streams of water?
Lord, we confess that we have been like the hard soil on the path. We have heard Your Word, and yet it feels like it goes in one ear and out the other. In the midst of our affliction, You have spoken words of comfort and perspective, and we have missed them. We have listened without hearing and read without understanding. We know that Satan delights to snatch away the seed before it even has a chance to take root. Father, break up the hard soil so that we can hear Your words of life.
Lord, we also confess that we have been like the shallow soil on rocky ground. We have heard Your Word, and we have experienced a spurt of growth. But we lack roots, and when the storm comes, we have been unable to endure. Father, this whole year has felt like a storm, and our relational, professional, medical, and cultural challenges have pushed us to throw in the towel. Lord, You do not faint or grow weary. Lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees. Help us to believe that in the shattering You are shaping us into the image of Your Son. Lord, deepen our shallow soil and give us roots that hold.
Lord, we also see evidence that we have been like the thorny soil. We think that we can have it all, with one foot firmly planted in Christ and the other in the world. But our overcrowded hearts preach the truth: we can only serve one master. The weed of worldliness, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things have choked out Your Word and made us unfruitful. Our lives have been more panic than peace, more fear than faith, more selfishness than self-control. Our love has grown cold. Lord Jesus, expose our idols and replace them with Yourself. Give us the simplicity of knowing that one thing is necessary. Pull the weeds and prune the thorns that we might prepare You room.
Lord, we could never make ourselves good soil. And so, we thank You for being the Gardener who comes to break up, deepen, weed, and cultivate our hearts. In Your life, we see a perfect picture of a heart inclined to the words of Your Father. In Your death, we see the perfect sacrifice for our hearts that go astray from Your Word. And in Your resurrection, we find the perfect power for the new life we need. Lord, do Your recreating work in us, and make us good soil. May our lives bear fruit for Your glory. You are the Lord of the harvest, and we long for the day when You will gather us and every one of Your people together for the great feast. And so, we rejoice in Your Word, and we give You thanks, for You have promised, and You will surely do it.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.