March 1, 2022
“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20, NIV).
Donella became a Christian at the age of 13 when a missionary came to her village. She persisted in her faith without church or family support until she entered medical school, remaining an isolated Christian there until she came to our medical education mission conference in her fifth year of training. She immediately became a leader in the Christian student group and remained so until she completed her residency and moved to her hometown as an allergist. From her professional practice she directed two of her patients to the Christian student group when they entered medical school. Neither was a Christian when she connected them to the group. Both have accepted Christ, both have become Christian leaders and others are coming to Christ through them.
We cannot imagine what one word for Christ produces. Jesus mentions the phenomenon of multiplication in His story of the seed and soil. He also says that some seeds are wasted because the ground is too hard for the gospel to be implanted or too shallow for it to take root.
I used to think our responsibility was limited to sowing the seed. I have enough trouble doing that well. However, when I listen to Jesus’ story in Mark 4, I realize God might also ask me to turn the soil or cut back the weeds, so His Word might be solidly implanted in the hearts of those who listen.
Whom do I know whose spiritual lives are so shallow that they don’t even consider the importance of the gospel? For the gospel to grow in their lives, they need help to “deepen their dirt,” to understand the evidence for a Creator and realize the emptiness and transience of life without a relationship with the God of love.
Whom do I know whose life is choking with the “…the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things…” (Mark 4:19, NIV)? How might I help cut back those weeds so that the gospel they receive is allowed to grow?
Ultimately, it’s not up to me. The parable that follows in Mark 4 makes that clear, where: “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain…” (Mark 4:27-28, NIV). All salvation is fully dependent on the power of God’s Spirit, but He does ask us to participate.
I have no idea how God worked in the life of the doctor above to bring her home…and then work through her to multiply His followers. But I did meet those she sent to medical school, and I was therefore personally responsible to prepare the way for God’s Spirit to work in their lives.
We all are responsible for someone who needs more dirt, or fewer weeds, or seed sown, or wheat harvested. May we be aware and ready to do our part in growing the gospel, whatever that may be.
Let me always be a cultivator in the garden you have planted.