Luke 8:11-15 (CEV)
11 This is what the story means: The seed is God’s message, 12 and the seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But the devil comes and snatches the message out of their hearts, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13 The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don’t have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up.
14 The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they are so eager for riches and pleasures that they never produce anything. 15 Those seeds that fell on good ground are the people who listen to the message and keep it in good and honest hearts. They last and produce a harvest.
Wrestling For Perspective
“Swish, swish, swish went the blades of grass above my head. Lily Sting swerved to avoid a massive falling oak leaf and Hanska and I held on for dear life. We had just left the forest, but were still not out of the danger of falling leaves being blown towards the grassland.”
My daughter is twelve, and this is a small snippet of the book she’s writing this month with the Young Writer’s program of NaNoWriMo – the National Novel Writing Month. Author’s and would-be author’s are challenged to write a novel over the space of just one month. My daughter’s book is based on the idea of what life would be like if humans were 6mm tall instead of 6ft tall.
This idea leaves lots of opportunities for unique perspectives. From 6mm tall, falling leaves are a potentially dangerous phenomenon, grasslands dense jungles, mice a feast for a week, and a tame bumblebee named Lily Sting makes a great choice when you want to ride bareback.
As I’ve been working with her on this story the last few weeks I couldn’t help but think about perspective, and about how we have to be careful to make sure we root ourselves correctly in the perspective something was written for if we want to properly understand it.
This parable about the sower is, I think, written for the benefit of, and from the perspective of, the sower. Here’s this farmer sowing his seed, and he knows, going into it, that the number of seeds he spreads is not a guarantee of how many plants he’ll get. It just doesn’t work that way.
So I think this is a story for the disciples, who Jesus is getting ready to send out with the message of the Kingdom just one chapter later. I think Jesus is trying to prepare them for the fact that not everyone is going to hear about him and what he’s doing and get automatically excited. That this doesn’t mean that they’re doing a bad job as “farmers” – just that it doesn’t work that way, so they shouldn’t expect it.
But what do we do if we find this (or any other) parable uncomfortable?
I think one of the points of parables is to force us to wrestle with them. To force us to engage in the text and not simply receive a black or white answer that we then can accept or reject outright. I think there is a huge amount of value in not automatically ‘getting’ it, in fact. When we wrestle with parables – or scripture in general – it has an opportunity to change how we think – to change our perspective – and help us to see the world more fully through a Kingdom lens.
This wrestling isn’t necessarily going to be comfortable. Perspective shifts tend to be jarring at best, and often involve a level of painful honesty that can be quite uncomfortable.
But the benefit of going through this process is that we end up with a more robust understanding of faith and our relationship to it. We begin to find that faith isn’t simply a set of principles to measure, but a way of approaching life that changes both us and the world around us.
- What about this parable is comforting to you?
- What about this parable is uncomfortable for you?
- How is that comfort or discomfort related to your perspective?
- What elements of this parable do you need to take time to wrestle with?