God Soft Hands Jesus did a weird thing the other day. I was reading a blog by Matt Brumage. And Matt always asks a question at the bottom of his posts. This one was: “What do you learn from this brief parable?” (Mustard Seed Kingdom)
So I scrolled back up to read the verses again, and GSHJ just went “kerplunk”. A great big dollop of God-speak. And I sat here and just typed it all into the comment box. Matt was gracious enough to accept this tsunami of words in the spirit it was offered! Thank you Matt.
Why mention this?
That dollop was a sideways take – a back-to-front look – on the ordinary (at least for me and my brain). And GSHJ did it again today with different verses – familiar verses. This short parable:
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’ “ Matthew 13:1-9
Read. Pause. Hear the “familiar” – the “Ah yes – now these verses mean … ” soundtrack already running in my mind. Read. Pause. STOP …
Let anyone with ears listen.
And GSHJ did it again …
“What are you listening to, Paul? Who are you listening to? What are you hearing? The words YOU share, the verses YOU offer, the Gospel YOU preach (or don’t), the responses and reactions YOU think appropriate? Are you listening to YOU or are you listening to me? Are those seeds YOURS or mine? And why the expectation that the recipients of those words are the key to YOUR success in saving souls? That YOUR words on these verses will be spurned by some and not by others – that you are the sower who “scatters”?
Where is “relationship” in that approach … that mind-set … that “hearing” of these verses (which are not “verses” – they are my words)? Are you listening to me? Or are you listening to you?
Because you are the seeds I scatter. You are the seeds. You.
And I will scatter in all places, at all times, in all ways. You will be eaten up. You will be scorched. You will be choked. And you will bring forth grain. You are the seed. And I scatter. You will find yourself in places you do not want to be. You will struggle in places you do not want to be. It may the last place on earth you desire to be. It may be with the least attractive people on the face of this earth. It may be with the most comfortable and inert “followers” you could ever find on the face of THIS earth. This earth in which I scatter seeds of love. You and Love and Scattered.
Followers of the Way? Do you ever consider that to be anything but a “neat label”?
When you read YOUR bible, when you ponder YOUR daily verses, and when “we” sit together and share my words … How often do you “hear me” – really hear me, listen to me, share me, share what I have given already, willingly accept given back by you? And how often do you hear what you think is me – the me offered by others “traditional thinking”, the me offered by other’s teaching, the me you have come to know as “God Almighty” – the “traditional” and safe God? The God you “serve” (with many grumbles along the way – many days off – and much selective hearing with “orders” – and all that “burden” you decide is the only way of “following”).
When you are despondent, when you are down, when you are burdened … you look at me and plead: “Save me … strengthen me … give me strength … let me be enough … draw me closer to you … listen to me dear Father!”
You are seeds I scatter. And you may find yourself in “good soil”. Or you may not. Just as I found myself sitting in a boat with so many pressing to hear my words (or was that for my healing – or was that their curiosity – or was that a day out with the new boy in town?) – I had “mega church” stuff that day – I was a celeb preacher that day – I was bringing the harvest home like no other than day – I was The Man!
And look at me now. Just you. Just me. That is not even a failing church! That is a church dead and buried and no more. Just you. Just me.
But look at US together! Look at YOU listening to ME right now – look at ME listening to YOU right now! I scattered you. And as much as you are “growing”, you are also changing lives (whether you know it or not). You share the same air with so many. You share the same space (cyber and real) with so many. And they the same with you. But … “numbers” are not relationship. They never can be. Scattering seeds?
Anyone can do that. Everyone can do that. I do that. You are my seeds.
But how long do you stay to see one single seed germinate? How long are you around to see what happened to one single seed? How many years will you give to one seed that you scatter? Or do you scatter and move on (as I “commanded”)?
So why this morning? Why this conversation? Why just you and why just me? Why nearly six decades of just you and me? Have you ever done that for anyone – for any “seed” you scattered in my name (and if not – why not)? I have seen you be all of those things over the years – I have been “all of those things” with you over the years. I get scorched daily. I get choked every second of every day. I am in all the places you would never choose to go every day. And in all of that there is something you so often miss …
If I am happy to have only you right now – why do you think you are not enough for me as you are “every day”? If I am content with you every day – why do you believe there is some kind of exam (or test) you must pass (or fail) of the “right change” – the “right behaviour” – the “right belief” – the right number of “saved souls” for me (or should that be “for you”)?
Look at the cross. That was just Me. There was no mega-church then. Just me and my father. And you. You are there with me – if you choose. You are enough for me. Always.
Why is that not true the other way around?”