Mark 4:1-9

Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:

“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, 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. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Mark 4:1-9

This probably has nothing to do with this text but I’m going to write it anyway. Just now, as I sat at my keyboard, my imagination swirling with memories stirred up by this parable, for the very first time in my entire life, I noticed that the “F” key and the “J” key on my keyboard each have tiny little raised up bars on them. I have never noticed that before. Ever. Weird.

I type a lot. Every day. And I have for years. Thanks to the North Dakota State Board of Education, typing was a required class when I was in high school. It was the only real world skill I developed in high school that continues to be a blessing in my life today. I can type pretty fast. Without looking at the keys. Just today I noticed these little bars on the “home base” keys where my index fingers go.

Why have I never noticed that before?

Now that I’ve noticed them, I’ll never forget them. I’ll actually be grateful for them because they are what help me get my fingers in the right places to type. Why haven’t I noticed them before? I don’t know. It is a mystery. Maybe it was just my time.

Jesus says “Listen!” and I remember every coach I have ever had preparing to tell the team something important, “Listen up you guys!” I want to hear what he has to say.

I remember a drunken old farmer outside of Mooreton, North Dakota, who used to plant the most crooked rows of crops in the county. My mom’s boyfriend was a farmer. I remember a Sunday afternoon drive when he took up past one of Howard’s fields and laughed about it.

Careless planting offends the sensibilities of North Dakota farmers. And the sower in this story is certainly a careless planter. He just scatters his seeds to the wind. He just throws them out there rather than carefully planting them in the good soil.

Why is it that some people have excellent hearing and can’t hear a thing?

This parable of the sower and the seeds was a popular text at the Bible camp I worked at in college and seminary. The director used it in teaching us to love all the kids, even when it seemed like we weren’t reaching anyone, because you just never know how the Holy Spirit will cook inside of them. Along with typing in high school, this was probably the most helpful advice I received to prepare me for my vocation as a pastor.

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Today was my day to discover the home key ridges on my keyboard. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why I have never noticed those little ridges before. I don’t know why God grabbed me by the neck and dumped a load of faith into my life. I also don’t know why I keep having those moments when the faith just doesn’t land in me. Those times I forget.

You, my reader, are a precious child of the Creator of the universe. You are a one off work of art. The world is incomplete without you. God loves you and continues to work out God’s purposes in your life. God will use you today to bless the world. That is the good news of the kingdom. That is the seed planted in your soul as you read these words.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Let us pray: in the mystery of our lives, O Lord, you move like the wind. Sometimes a gentle wind. Sometimes a fierce gale. We are grateful for the seeds of faith that you continue to cast within and among us. May they take root and grow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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