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Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn’t very deep. Matthew 13:5

A friend of mobstacles belowine was relating how he managed to shut down a sizable portion of the electricity in his neighborhood. He told how he was working on a yard project his wife had been asking him to complete for a long time. (Most of us men will be able to relate to that).

One of the last things he had to do was to plant a tree in the corner of the yard. As he tells the story, he completely ignored the sign in the corner of his yard warning that there were cables underneath the soil and no digging should happen without calling diggers hotline.

“I wasn’t going to be digging that deep, so I didn’t think that sign applied to me,” He smiled, “But on the fourth or fifth prod with the shovel I felt something solid. Thinking it was yet another rock I slammed the point of the shovel deep and pried up. It was getting late, I was getting tired. I wanted to be done and I was tired of rock! That’s when the spark happened.”

Within minutes his wife yelled out the window that they had no power. Further investigation revealed that nearly half of the houses in the subdivision were also lacking power. Needless to say, my friend learned a valuable lesson about digging. Always know what’s below. Always.

The same can be said in our spiritual lives I think. The ‘Parable of the Sower and the Seed’ tells of seed that is thrown on rocky ground. The seed sprouts and grows quickly, like the rest of the seed. However, when the sun came out and the wind blew the roots were not able to stand firm and the plant withered.

For years I’ve heard sermons on the negative aspect of the rocky ground. Sermons that spoke of not letting emotion get in the way of growth. Sermons about how vital it is to get ‘rid of the rocks’ in our lives so that we can grow our roots deep. All these sermons had important lessons for us to learn. However, maybe the story has a different twist for us as well.

Any good farmer knows the importance of working the soil before planting; of knowing what lay below the surface so that when you plant you know what you are up against. Understanding and preparing the soil is just as important as planting the seed.

I see the rocks of the story as those things in people’s lives that keep us from really turning over everything to God. It could be an abusive childhood. It could be the struggle of divorce or an unhappy marriage. It could be the realization, in later years, that the dreams of our childhood will never be realized.

Those of us on the surface can look with disdain on those intent on focusing on the emotional and not the deeper things of the spiritual life, or we can take the time to help those struggling with ‘rocky soil’ to withstand the penetrating and painful rays of the sun and destructive winds of life’s pain.

Perhaps the focus in the emotional and the surface things of life are all they can handle for the moment until they are able to remove some of those rocks hidden from view.

That’s what grace is about. Grace is about realizing that everyone we meet has some hidden burdens. It’s about patiently helping to remove the rocks before we can expect roots to grow deeper. Before you dig into someone’s life, know what’s below.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I lift up to you those I know who may be struggling with things below the surface I never realized existed. I ask that I might have the insight and patience to help clear the rocks before being concerned about deeper roots. In your name, Amen.

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April 2014
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