One reason I return to Indiana from Arizona in April is gardening. I’ve spent ten years striving to understand my type of soil, appropriate flowers, and enemies to my garden. Jesus told a parable using a garden metaphor that strikes at the heart and His warning was understanding; the parable of the sower opens the door to understanding all the parables (Mark 4:13) and consequently the mysteries and secrets of God (Mark 4:11).
Thankfully, with such a great promise, our Teacher, Jesus, interpreted this story for us. The seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11), therefore, anyone who speaks God’s Word is the gardener: that’s you and me. He lists four conditions of our heart, the soil, that we need to understand for ourselves first and ultimately for others.
The first heart is likened to a well-traveled path that has been become hard and impenetrable. This isn’t the unbeliever; this is you if you’re not a careful gardener. How does a heart become hardened? When life’s difficult and we’re not dependent on God we become like that hard path. God has allowed pain or confusion into our lives and we’ve not leaned into Him for comfort or clarity; we don’t understand. We forget all the times He was there for us and fall into unbelief. Jesus called His disciples hard-hearted when they didn’t understand the impact of His miracles (Mark 6:52, 8:17, 16:14); their hearts became like a trampled down footpath.
The result of this type of soil leaves us open for Satan to snatch up the seed. God’s Word cannot penetrate this hard soil and Satan, who’s been waiting on the sidelines, takes the opportunity. Listening to preaching, teaching, or words of encouragement are snatched away: our heart has become hardened.
Is that you? Are you in a place that you don’t understand and have stopped believing God? Jesus warns that your words reveal the condition of your heart (Matt. 12:34); so be honest with yourself and with God.
Ezekiel prophesied (36:26-27) that God would replace Israel’s stony, hard heart with a new heart, one that is tender and responsive. Our solution to a hard heart is the same as Israel’s: the Holy Spirit. He is sent to help us and give us power to change, to till that packed-down soil until it is broken up and can receive the seed. The devil cannot overcome the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts; he can’t even understand it. God’s desire is for you to recognize your heart/soil today. Work that soil, add fertilizer, water it more but make the necessary changes. That’s kingdom living.
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3 NLT