Monday, January 28, 2013

Mark 4 & the Necessity of "Hard Things"

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to ride alone with a very grumpy teenager to church.  Yes, after being sick all week and still feeling a bit weak, my son felt it was well within acceptable limitations to not have to go to church with the rest of us and especially not go early to attend Sunday school, like we do every week, and also operate the camera up in the AV booth during the service. 

Well, after doddling through his chores while everyone else left in our other vehicle (luckily we had to take two vehicles that morning because of some afternoon plans) we got into the car to drive the 20 minutes it takes for us to get to church from our farm.  At first it was very quiet while I was praying and driving and my son was staring out the window.  Then, I felt led to start sharing with my son some of the "hard things t"hat were required of me when I was younger, things I didn't enjoy doing but now as an adult can see the benefit of my parents being tough with me and fighting my strong will to resist the "hard things" they thought were good for me to do - for shaping my character.

It was the Holy Spirit who then guided the rest of the conversation and who then intertwined the same message into the sermon our pastor presented that day on the life of Joseph and the many "hard things" God allowed in Joseph's life to shape him into the man God needed him to be for the particular calling that was meant for his life.  Needless to say, my son did not walk away at the end of the day resentful of the "hard things" my husband and I had required of him, rather they gave him a lot of food for thought about his own need to have his character strengthen as well as the many things that he tends to resist just because they seem too hard.

Is that not the case for the rest of us too?  Our human nature always wants to take the easy route.  I know in talking to people about making healthy changes in their diets, one of the first excuses I hear is "That would be really hard."  Yes, going from buying all the prepackaged foods off the shelf of a store to actually making everything from scratch and growing as much of it yourself or finding good suppliers for your food, and then eating that food and eliminating the cravings and toxic remnants of your previous diet is very hard. 

In reading through Mark 4 and thinking about all of these things last week, I was struck by the similarity of the parable of the sower and the seed with all of the things I have just jotted down above.  The seeds on the wayside are those truths that are just dismissed before they can even be absorbed - truths you just don't even want to hear because you can already anticipate the amount of work you would have to devote towards them.  The seeds in the stony ground are truths that are taken in but when the pushing to trying to root those truths into applicable practices into your life becomes too hard then you stop pushing and leave the plant to die. The seeds that get choked out by the weeds are those truths that are received with gladness but then life gets busy the new plants/changes/disciplines get in the way of things that you have also devoted your life to then they get pushed into the background of life and forgotten.

The process of taking those rocks out of your soil and weeding your heart often of those things that fight against what you know you should do, but also which seem too hard at the moment, is what keeping on in the "hard things" of life does.  It tills the ground and keeps you prepared and in shape for what other tough things lay ahead.  I thought it ironic that one of the concepts that Dianne Craft talks about in eliminating a Candidia infection is to "kill and plant", meaning that not only must you kill the bad yeast infection but then you also must plant in the good bacteria so it can take over and keep fighting off the bad bacteria.  In considering the similarity between what needs to happen in the gut and what type of character is necessary in holding to a diet that would do just that - "kill and plant" - a person must also be one who is willing to do the "hard work" of yanking distractions out of life from their onset (weeding), removing personal obstacle (getting rid of the rocks), and plodding through until the job is done (tilling).

What may you be avoiding today because it seems too hard?  I suggest you pray about your resistance and remember the following scripture as you pray:

Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

If you have been led to a truth that requires hard changes ahead for you, realize that God has led you to those changes and He will not abandon you in pursuing them and making them find root and grow in your life just like any other truth He may share with you.  You just must trust in His leading and then be willing to do the "hard things" He asks of you.

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