I've read this passage so many times and heard sermon after sermon on the subject. But today it got me thinking about the last couple of years and all the things that have happened- the thorns, birds, and sun. For me, the last couple of years here in Romania were physical "thorns". When I was sixteen/seventeen-ish, I experienced something like a heart attack followed by long periods of weakness. After being poked, pricked, and prodded by our eccentric physician (and yes, they took enough blood over that year to satisfy a vampire), I was told I had a strange infection in my blood. They didn't tell me what it was, but I didn't care. It was an inconvenience. They prescribed me some pills to help de-stress my heart and get it back on rhythm and a few vials of amoxicillin. Dad got the happy job of stabbing me with a full vial of the stuff every ten days and listening to me roar in pain. (I was told later that amoxicillin is one of the most painful injections you can get.) This lasted for a couple of months. When we finally finished the last vial, I refused to go back to the doctor. I was feeling better, so I must be better, right? I couldn't be more wrong. When I finally did go back, the new test results came back doubly bad. I was basically called an idiot by my doctor and told that if I didn't deal with this, I was going to need a heart transplant by the time I was twenty-one. Talk about putting the fear of God into someone! But I still refused the injections. We compromised and she gave me pills. (Really? Really?! Couldn't you have done that in the first place?!) The following year was tough- really tough. But now there was a difference. Whereas before I was just pulling through on my own strength, I was now vulnerable. Thoughts of "Why, God?" churned through my mind, but I had to remind myself, "I gave my life to God a long time ago. That was a one-time-for-all-time deal. He brought me out of my life of sin, He can bring me out of this." But I knew He might not want to. That's a scary thing to discover at seventeen: your own mortality. I had given him my life, but could I now give Him my death, too? I didn't know it at the time, but I had proven that my roots went down deep- deeper than surface rocks, thorns, and sunlight could reach. I had grown tall. Now I was ready to bloom.That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, 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 produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9 ESV)
Over the following years, He would test me over and over again with health complications and, eventually, more emotional problems. But I know now that even if I can't see my own roots, God can. He knows. And He knew that I would stay put, even when the world try to pull me out by that root. I thank God for not letting me sit there and be seed snatched up by birds or choked by weeds.
This passage is so important to help answer those questions of "Why, God?" Does it tell us outright why? No. But it does tell us that if we stick it out, we will get to see how deep our roots go. And it's amazing. Having faith that He is in control of even the bad things and won't give us more than we can handle (so long as we handle it with His power) is so comforting. Life is going to be bad. Everyone and anyone can and do get diseases. Their hearts get broken by imperfect relationships. They become victims of theft, fraud, and rape. But honestly, if I have to go through those things, I would rather go through them with God by my side than without Him. That's what it comes down to, really. People think that it's this strange choice- live "free" from God's meddling or let Him control us- but it's really not. God's not a nitpicking old woman or a slave-driving taskmaster. He's a loving father. He's our loving Father. And He's holding out His hand, saying, "Walk with me."
Something that makes me sad about this passage is that many people who think they are Christians are like the seed growing among the thorns. I know of a young man who grew up "believing" in Christ, then he went to an acquaintance's funeral (not even someone he really knew well- an acquaintance) and couldn't reconcile that death with what he had been taught about God. So he became a Deist. A few years later he was struck with a disease that caused major muscle cramps over his entire body that were so bad that sometimes when he had an attack the cramp crushed bones. He tried to believe in God for a while, but again couldn't reconcile what was happening with what he knew of God. So he became an Atheist. Not long after giving up on God, he was healed. But it was too late. The damage was done and now he is a die-hard Atheist whose life mission is to try to destroy the faith of Christians. My heart goes out to this young man. What the thorns in his life did was choke his beliefs to death. He found out he didn't have roots.
Have you taken a moment to thank God for walking with you through the field of life?