Ever have those moments of stagnancy in a relationship? They are the moments which seem like the relationship is not what it could be, or used to be. You become guarded and seek a comfortable position and the intimacy just isn’t there. I can have those moments in my relationship with God and it is a challenge to get it back.
A while back I was really struggling in my relationship with God. I wasn’t out breaking the law or doing anything bad per se, it was just a lack of intimacy in my relationship. I was in a stagnant place and could not figure out how to get closer. One of the passages I came across in my daily reading was the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-23. Part of what makes a parable so powerful is that the listeners know they are represented in the story.
I had heard this parable hundreds of times since childhood so it did not feel like a particularly interesting read. This time however, instead of just reading it, I imagined myself as a part of the audience actually looking at Jesus and listening to Him. Which soil would I relate to when hearing the story? When looking Jesus in the eyes? And those eyes, looking at me: I know he would not look upon me with conviction or to provoke guilt, but in knowing the truth and forcing me to be honest with myself.
Examining my life can be tough sometimes because I don’t always want to be honest with myself. If I had not imagined myself looking into the eyes of Jesus I probably would have said I was the good soil because it is who I wanted to be. But being honest with myself, which of the soils was I? I was stuck in the weeds. My life was centered on long hours at a stressful job and paying the bills so we could own a house. Those were my weeds. This wasn’t a case of desiring the biggest car or the newest gadget; it was simply an intense focus on “this job is stressing me out, how can we change?” I was more focused on how to get away from my job than how to strengthen my relationship with God. This was my challenge.
Once again I thought about being in that crowd, listening to Jesus speak. Emotionally, how would people in the audience have felt knowing their relationship with Christ was not reflected in good soil? How would Christ have felt about those people as He looked upon them?
Here comes the disclaimer: I am in no way saying anyone out there is a soil which does not produce fruit. In fact, the parable itself is not even the point of my story. The point is that your relationship with Jesus is not going to be everything it can be unless you are challenged sometimes: challenged to be more authentic, more vulnerable, and more truthful to both Jesus and yourself. To have an intimate relationship with Jesus, you have to go deeper and deeper. Think about the best moments you have had in relationship with your parents, your spouse, your best friend. Were those moments when you were simply engaged in small talk? Or were they moments when you had those deep, intimate conversations? I bet they were the deep conversations where you felt like the other person really understood you. It is a wonderful thing that you can have intimacy with God as well. How do we grow intimacy in our relationship with Christ? In service with brothers and sisters, in worship and fellowship, in prayer and in reading Scripture – God reveals himself to us in action. It is our choice of whether or not to be truthful and vulnerable to Him. It is our choice to be intimate with God, to take action and seek a relationship with him or to be one of those other soils in which the seed dies.
I pray we all grow through this challenge.
Pastor of Administration