Second post for the day – this is good for me!
Reading: Mark 4:10-41
I didn’t focus on the parable of the sower in my last post, because I wanted to look at it in this one, as part of Jesus’ ‘explanation’ of the parable to his bewildered disciples. In my last placement I regularly led worship at an aged care facility called Homestead Lakes (they had a dam out the front with some ducks in it – close enough). One of the residents who came regularly to the monthly service was a man named Bill. He and his wife were dedicated Salvation Army members, who had devoted themselves to Salvation Army work with youth through their congregation, which was located in an area with a sadly abundant supply of troubled young people. Bill had worked alongside these folk, and many had become Christians, in no small part, I imagine, because of his dedication and commitment to them. Bill would speak to me after the services sometimes, recalling those days and the young people of whom he was so proud, as well as sharing his love for his wife, whose health was fading and whose memory was already dim. He also spoke of the future; of his and his wife’s ultimate deaths and, with tears in his eyes, spoke of the pair of them presenting themselves before God and ‘offering the fruits’, presenting the people whom they’d led on a journey of faith, as a sign that he and his wife were the good soil and had borne fruit a hundredfold.
While I picture my encounter with God on the other side of death differently, Bill’s evident devotion to God and his wife has stayed with me, along with the way he lived out the parable of the sower. It was clear that the Word had grown deep roots in his life, leading him to serve others in ways that deeply affected them, too. Of course, my mind strays to those who didn’t accept the seed Bill was offering (there must have been some and I’m sure Bill was grieved about their loss). A sower would know what each ground type would look like, and know how to avoid wasting seed on the fruitless path, gravel and weedy soil. Why would the sower bother with the bad soil if the fruit was all that was important?
A year and a half before my placement ended, Bill and his wife moved to a different facility which was closer to their family and better able to care for Bill’s wife and her increasing needs. I don’t know if he’s still alive, but I like to imagine that when Bill does have his encounter with God, God in grace would accept Bill’s offering of faithful service and proclamation, then introduce him to the souls he thought were lost to weeds and sun and birds, but whom God valued enough to bring into the fruitful realm of eternal love.