Jesus tells a wonderful story in the Gospel of Mark that challenges us to live a rich and meaningful life full of faith.
The story begins with a farmer "going out" to sow seed. He left the comfort of his home and took a risk by cultivating his land, then planting the seed. He is really acting on faith that something will grow! We need to be just like the farmer in taking a step of faith toward believing in God and cultivating our hearts to receive His love and His truth. We also must have the faith to believe that God will change our lives and make it meaningful. You see, our heart is the soil, and it is up to us if God's love and truth actually grow and produce a meaningful life for ourselves and for others.
As we respond to God and to His truths, several things can happen:
r We may not develop deep enough roots to withstand the rocky times in our lives. We "wither" and our faith might die, because we experience a great loss or the struggles of life become too hard for us to keep believing.
r "Thorns" in life, like unforgiveness, anger or bitterness, may choke us and discourage us in our faith. We keep our faith, but we don't grow into the rich and full life that God intends for us and planned for us to have. Our lives become "inward" and fellowship is hindered.
r Or we allow God's truth and love to impact our lives in such a way that we grow strong in our faith, sharing God's love with others and multiplying the Kingdom of God "even up to a hundred times."
There are three simple steps to take to make sure we allow God's truth and love to impact us fully:
1. Freely receive from God. Be accessible to Him and His Word. Take time to pray and read the Bible. Find a church to fellowship in and be encouraged with other believers.
2. Make sure you have a teachable heart. Sometimes an un-teachable attitude shuts the door on God and results in developing a hardness of mind or a blind spot that can prevent living a truly joyful and free life. Experiencing the Kingdom of God in your life will cost you your pride, but it is so worth it! Let God show you how to hear Him in your life. It is a risk, but isn't living a fulfilled life worth it?
3. Freely give to others what you have received. Share with others what God is doing in your life and how He can help them, too. "Scatter the seeds," so to speak, so that others can share in the bounty of joyful living. We all plant seeds by the way we live life. What kind of seeds do you plant? Let's plant seeds like investing time, prayer, compassion, thought, creativity, patience, attentiveness with/in/towards others. And as we "plant seeds," we must hope for results but not get discouraged by a "non-return" from those whom we planted in. Seeds are to be given away. We cannot get them back. They either produce or don't.
So, let's begin today and allow God's Kingdom of faith, love, joy, peace and fulfillment to be planted in our lives. And then share it with others. It is a "pay it forward" concept that can change your life and another's!
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week's column comes from Pastor Jane Seaman, associate pastor of River of Life Worship Center, Lock Haven.