Thorns in the Garden
Matthew 13:3,7,22 A sower went out to sow… Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them… this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
There are times when I must search to hear what God is saying to me through a passage. Then, there are passages that I just know are about me. I am pretty sure Jesus, in this parable, was somehow looking directly at me two thousand years later.
In the parable, Jesus describes himself as a sower, planting his word in us. The story goes on to explain our possible responses to the word of God. In some, the seed never takes root. In others, it takes root but at the first sign of pressure from the world, it is abandoned.
Then, Jesus gets to me. I am the one in whom the seed has taken root, started to grow but then just does not quite get to its full potential as the cares and riches of the world choke it out. I am the one, constantly losing my focus on Christ because of the distractions around me. My growth has been stunted as I continually allow my gaze to turn from God to my self-interests.
This was the passage that I read the first day home from treatment back in 2014. It was as applicable at that time as it is now. It may have been more painfully obvious thorns back then, but the thorns are not gone. They are just different. I wrote back then that I knew it was going to take very purposeful, continual effort to keep my gaze focused on God.
I still, daily, need to put in the effort to avoid the diversions of the world if I want to continue to grow. The thorns may have changed but the distractions remain. Pride, resentment, anger, and greed, all continue to pull at me. As long as I am in this flesh, I will wrestle with its appetites. If I want to grow in God, I constantly must work at avoiding the thorns of the flesh and the world.
If I find myself being choked by the cares of the world and if I find I am drowning in self, I have no further to look than to my own response to God’s seed. Am I daily working at focusing on him, reading, praying, and listening?
I have so often complained of being distant from God, only to realize that I was the one who had neglected the relationship. If I want to grow in my faith, I need to exercise and work at it. Faith and growth are not passive. If I do not purposefully choose to focus on God, I will by default be distracted and choked by the thorns of the world.