In 2007, as a supporter of Richard Foster's ministry - Renovare, I was introduced to a most excellent book - Deep-Rooted in CHRIST, The Way of Transformation by Joshua Choonmin Kang. Foster suggested reading it as a weekly devotional for the next year beginning in January 2008. I read as suggested and because of it's depth have continued this year as well. In his book, Kang talks about many things, but what has been speaking to me lately are the sections on caring for the soul, the comparison of our soul to soil and its fruitfulness.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the Parable of the Four Soils:
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town he told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." - Luke 8:4-8
When growing things: flowers, trees, fruit, etc... the soil is often overlooked and not seen as important, after all it is just dirt. It's not as glamorous or interesting as choosing the flowers and plants. But as any gardener knows, to grow a healthy plant, first you must have healthy soil. In fact, the soil is literally the foundation of the garden. Good soil must have proper texture, structure and fertility to grow strong, healthy plants. If the texture is sandy with loose particles, the air and water move too freely and the plant doesn't get any. If the texture is tight, like clay, the plant will get no air or water at all. The structure must be loose and crumbly but not too dry. The soil must be fertile, fed with essential nutrients so that it can in turn feed the plants. It should be tender, free of rocks and weeds, ready for potential growth.
It's the same with our souls. How can we make sure that the soil of or soul is healthy and fertile ground? We can't let the soil of our soul be hard like clay; trampled down with past hurts and wounds; breeding only bitterness and unforgiveness. We can't be a rock garden; sandy and shallow, hearing the Word on Sunday morning but not allowing it to change us during the rest of the week. We mustn't allow the worries of this world, the riches and pleasures to consume us, becoming overgrown with weeds. The seed of the Word won't grow unless it can get down in our soul deep enough to make a root. It must have room to grow not being choked out because there are too many other things there.
In the verse above Jesus says, "the birds of the air" steal the word. Later in the chapter when he explains the parable to the disciples he interprets the birds as "the devil who comes and steals the word from their hearts." In Ephesians 2:2 the Apostle Paul describes Satan as "the ruler of the kingdom of the air." I find this quite intriguing. What is ruling our airways today? Are we allowing the things in the air to steal the Word from our hearts and our souls?
Let's examine ourselves today. I personally ask God today, to keep my soil tilled. I want more than anything to be learning and growing daily from what I hear and read in God's Word. I determine not to let the things of this world distract me and take priority in my life.