THE SOWER


A farmer went out to sow seeds. That brings back childhood images of my father walking the fields sowing grass seeds with what looked like a box and a bow called a fiddle. This was a big advancement on the age-old method of scattering seeds by hand. Whatever the method there’s no chance of the seed growing on hard soil or rock. During the Covid lockdown I tried by hand to cultivate a small piece of back garden to sow some vegetables. To get the hard soil to the stage where it’s loosened up and clear of roots and stones is seriously hard work. Yet, without the soil being tilled there’s no point in sowing the seed.

Our recent experience of lockdown and our continuing journey with Covid 19 is creating a worldwide churning of the soil in all our lives. The ground beneath our feet no longer feels as solid as it used to be. Age-old securities are not secure any more. What was gilt edged before has lost its lustre. Many feel rattled, uncertain and anxious about the future. Our reality has changed where even the familiar looks unfamiliar. It’s a time that has caught us all by surprise that none of us thought we would ever be seeing except in movies.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that as a people we have been traumatized. As a result we may even find ourselves more irritable that we were before. Workers in shops find customers to be more crunchy and difficult to deal with. Even on the roads there seems to be much more aggressive driving. Just simmering beneath the surface there’s a lot of anger and we need to exercise caution as to what we do with it. Corona may be the culprit but others can get blamed.

I rather like the saying that; Storms come into our lives for a reason, they last for a season. Learn the reason and outlast the season. Corona is not just a storm, it’s more like a hurricane and like any hurricane it blows away everything in its path that is not either tied down or very flexible like a palm tree.

It has left us asking what really is secure any more. We need solid places to drop out anchors and for that reason we are now in the most teachable time in our history. It has tilled our soil and literally shaken our foundations. However it has also made us far more ready than we ever were to receive the seeds of truth. We are now looking for answers to questions that until now we never even took time to ask. Some of these are basic question that have always been with us, like where do we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? The sense has been heightened that here we have no lasting city so is there anything that doesn’t change in the midst of all that has been shown to be so vulnerable?

How badly do we need to find a rock that is higher than we are at this present time, so where can our souls find a solid foundation? We may be forced to look beneath religious practice or even non-practice and look to our Christian faith with fresh eyes to see what does it have to offer. There is a growing awareness that we must now turn inwards to find answers and as a consequence so many are expressing an interest in prayer and meditation.

One of the most wonderful places on my own journey, that was equally the most painful, was where I had to ask, ‘I know what it means to be a practicing Catholic but what does it mean to be a Christian? It was as if I were starting out from scratch and asking fresh questions that were not affected by religious conditioning. In my faith journey I had moved from unquestioning acceptance to a place of questioning non-acceptance and it was from that place of doubt and upheaval that I prayed ‘O God if you are there, then you a so much greater than my doubts please find me, and reveal yourself to me.’ That moment I now look back on as the beginning of a great journey of faith, of simply trusting God to be God in my life. It’s a time, not when I found God, but more like when He began to find me.

Early during that time I came to realize that the gateway to all Christian experience is surrender. Without an act of surrender and accepting Christ as Lord of my life it would be possible to practice one’s religion, be a good person, live a moral life and still feel on the outside. Letting go and letting God was the real challenge. This is a rather amusing story that carries the essence of the kind of surrender that each of us is called to:

An elderly immigrant couple living in New York called Mike and Kate, both of whom were illiterate, travelled home one night and stopped to listen to the Salvation Army Band playing some songs. The religion of their childhood had become a distant memory and over the years they had drifted away from the faith. An ancient spark became reignited and they remained to the end when an altar call was extended for anyone listening who wished to commit their life to Christ and accept him as Lord of their lives. Both went forward. It had been a chance encounter and they went away on cloud nine. Still basking in the glow of his newfound faith, Mike went to a men’s gathering for worship the following Sunday. Returning home it was obvious that his spirits had dropped and he looked crestfallen. Kate was very concerned and enquired what went wrong to have caused such a change of heart. Mike explained that in the meeting he felt an outsider because all the men wore a blue pullover with something written across the front and being unable to read he didn’t know what it meant. Kate assured him that for the next meeting she would knit him exactly what he needed and quickly got to work.

When completed, the problem arose as to what was to be written on the front. With neither able to read or write all they could do was bow their heads and pray for guidance. Looking up they saw a sign being erected in a shop window opposite. Believing it to be the answer Kate copied it onto the pullover. After the next meeting Mike came home jubilant. So many had commented on his jumper and said that the inscription on the front was by far the best they had ever seen. Kate was naturally was more than curious as to what it meant. ‘Would you believe,’ said Mike, ‘it says; ‘This business is now under new management!’

For anyone who surrenders to the Lord what better an inscription could there be.

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