When I think about today’s Gospel reading, I cannot help but think of Dad’s garden this year, with its wild mix of weeds and flowers. Dad was a pretty darn good sower. He always had more tomatoes than he could eat which meant the people around him benefited from that. The last couple of years though Dad began to falter and the garden seemed a bit unruly. When Jesus uses the parable of the weeds, he knows that not everyone who hears the Word of God will have it take root within their heart. Some seeds will fall on rocky ground; others get tangled up in weeds; still others will be eaten by birds. The Evil One is always trying to snatch away what is sown in the heart.
Simply because we are Christians will not ensure that the Word will blossom and take root in our hearts. One of the most beloved stories from my faith walk is Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I often give it as a mandatory read to my retreatants who struggle with self esteem issues. Towards the end of the book, the protagonist, Much-Afraid, reaches a crucial point in her faith where she realizes that her disordered attachments are too great for her to conquer on her own. The weeds in her heart have taken control. She needs to have them removed and commits in an astounding act of surrender to doing this. I weep every time I reach this part of the allegory because it is my story too and since reading it, I ask God to do the same for me as was done for Much-Afraid each time I realize that the Love in my heart is being choked out by the weeds.
The other night while reading Jesus Calling during my prayer time, the entry reminded me of Hind’s Feet:
Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak. Someday you will dance light-footed on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. I require you to take the next step, clinging to my hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you. It is truly the path of Life.
Life brings us some high peaks and low valleys from which we may believe there is no relief. That is when we need to yoke ourselves to the One who created us. When we honestly confront our inner demons, we want to yank them out but sometimes we do not know how. We must stay the path–the one that leads to Life. The way may be overgrown and treacherous but the trick is to watch for those sparkling surprises. These are glimmers of hope, placed perfectly for our arrival. We are not to be like those in the parable who hear the Word but allow the world to choke it without bearing a yield. We are meant to walk to the High Places and bear fruit that yields a hundredfold.
What does stay the path mean for you right now?
What weeds need to be pulled out of your heart so that Love can blossom there?
Seed-Sower, you plant where others cannot. Then you wait patiently and see what springs up. Weed-Puller, do not let the Evil One choke out what you have sown. Tear from my heart all that prevents Love from taking root and blossoming. Water the seeds with joy and mercy, allowing me to bear a yield of one hundred fold for you. Amen.