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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Keep Hanging On

Sometimes I wonder why the farmer in Jesus’s parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 wasted so much seed on sub-prime acreage. The stony portion of the field, for example, wasn’t a place that just needed a little rock removal. It was “ground where a quite thin surface of earth covers a rock,” according to the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.* In other words, those seeds fell on nothing more than a slab of dusty bedrock.

God’s promises have fallen on similar “tillage” in my heart where I despaired of ever producing a harvest. But even mountains manage to grow a crop of towering pines on nothing more than granite when seeds persist long enough to push through rock. I’ve found, even where my heart feels stony, I can still get it to yield something fruitful.

When we were putting our children through college, my financial faith felt as tenuous as a root trying to survive on a boulder. Our savings never seemed to match the requirements for getting them to graduation.

I held scriptures of God’s faithfulness to provide for us in my heart—promises such as 2 Corinthians 9:10-11, Philippians 4:19, and many more. Though the word was sown in me, however, reality constantly threatened to break my hold on trust. Tomorrow’s fees were always looming over today’s inadequate bank account.

Growing Faith Bit by Bit

My faith wasn’t big or strong enough to believe for all the expenses at once, but I kept it alive by trusting God for one day’s bills at a time. When worry lifted its head, I refreshed myself daily (even hourly) by recalling those words of faithfulness, and they consoled and encouraged my heart like dewfall on dry roots.

Day by day, I marveled at how He met our needs. Sometimes a tax rebate arrived just in time. Sometimes a gift appeared in our mailbox. Sometimes there was an unexpected pay increase.

Money seemed to pass through our bank account more than it collected there, so I’m still not sure how it happened, but the bills were paid and both children graduated without going into debt. All the time I felt like the farmer in Mark 4:26-29. I didn’t know how, but the ground seemed to be producing all by itself; first the sprout, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. One thing I do know—my faith that God will provide for us is stronger than ever because my roots had time to go deep.

Faith sometimes takes hold slowly, like roots growing on rocky ground. Keeping His word fresh in our minds, like moisture consistently applied, keeps it alive. Stone-bound seeds kept moist long enough to grow roots attain a remarkable power. They slowly and steadily push against the rock as they grow, until they penetrate then crack it. Under that tiny but consistent pressure, the stone gradually crumbles and becomes the very soil the roots need.

God sows His seed where He wills—even where logic says it should not grow at all. If we will lay hold of His words and cling to them as to great treasure, those words will at last produce a harvest—sometimes thirty, sometimes sixty, and sometimes a hundred fold.

*Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Copyright © March 8, 2017, Terry Murphy. Used by permission.

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