Tales of Tares

“Let both grow together until the harvest.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 13:30 NIV

Oy, what a world we live in! Just booting up my computer for the day’s work can be depressing. I check my email first. Thank heavens for spam filters, which separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I have it set on the highest setting, but still some garbage sneaks through. Then there are the forwards with the dire warnings of bad luck if I don’t pass them on. Phooey on them all. Once in a blue moon I’ll read one. One day, though, I did.

It was from my brother about jury duty. Seems that some shysters are calling folks, posing as court officials and telling them there’s a warrant out for their arrest because they didn’t report for jury duty. When the innocent party protests that they never even received a summons, the con on the other end tells them he’ll check into it, just give him your Social Security number and date of birth. Sometimes they even ask for a credit card number. Give them the information they want, and the nightmare of identity theft follows. (Check the validity of scams online at snopes.com.)

Then there are headlines, equally depressing. While most of them are about Covid-19 (IMO most are political propaganda to manipulate the public’s opinion of the current administration), once in awhile there’s some real news.

Like the article about the hype in Boston back in 2007. City officials were livid—the article’s word, not mine—over an advertising campaign for a late-night television program. Seems that the broadcasting company put up electronic signs on bridges and other obvious places—thirty-eight in all—of a blinking cartoon character giving passersby an obscene gesture. This led to shutting down highways, bridges, and a section of the Charles River, sending in the bomb squad and costing the city a half a million dollars.

“Commerce was disrupted, transportation routes were paralyzed, residents were stranded and relatives across the nation were in fear for their loved ones in the city of Boston,” said the Boston DA.

The mayor called the ploy an outrageous marketing scheme fueled by corporate greed. Well, yeah, isn’t greed what makes the world go ’round these days?

And, speaking of sickos, you better make sure you have a good antivirus program installed and don’t ever, ever let the subscription run out. Oh, and don’t forget the firewalls to prevent hackers from breaking into your computer files and stealing sensitive financial information.

Then there are the block lists to prevent corporate greed from giving you indigestion at dinnertime, the filth you have to wade through to find a decent program on television, the obscene and offensive t-shirts and bumper stickers. It’s enough to make me want to head for the hills and become a mountain woman.

Jesus warned there’d be times like this. Evil, sad to say, is here to stay, and evildoers aren’t going anywhere, either. Jesus called them tares—actually “darnel,” a weed that looked just like the wheat when it first sprouted. Only as the plants matured did the identity of the good seed and the bad seed become evident.

When you look around, Christian, and it seems that the tares are rampant, don’t despair. Instead, rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12) because, you see, the harvest is coming.

Dear God, sometimes I feel helpless and overwhelmed by the evil in the world around me. Help me to be a sturdy strand of wheat in a field of tares. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Contact me @ michelethuey@gmail.com if you would like to use this.

Soil Toil

Image by mwahl from Pixabay

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. –Psalm 95:7–8 NIV

Every year when it’s time to plant our garden, my husband works hard to prepare the soil for the seeds.

First he plows, turning the hardened earth over and under. Then he tills it, breaking up tough clumps of sod and removing the rocks that rise to the surface with the churning—and there are buckets full still, after forty years. Then he works lime and fertilizer in the loose soil with the tiller—and, of course, removes more rocks.

Only when the soil is loose and porous, and boosted with nutrients necessary for plant growth does he drop in the seeds.

Even then his soil toil is far from over. Throughout the growing season, he must keep working it, tilling it to keep it loose and soft, plucking those endless rocks, pulling weeds, and periodically adding more lime and fertilizer.

After every hard rain, the soil hardens again, more rocks appear, and he must hoe around the growing plants so the nutrients they need to grow could filter through to the roots. And, of course, pick rocks.

Even after the harvest the work isn’t done. Plowing the whole thing under allows the decaying plants to add more nutrients to the soil over the winter.

Then, the following spring, he starts all over. The ground always needs work.

Just like our souls. We need a lot of work, too—over and over. The work is never done on this earth.

It all starts with a hardened heart that cannot accept the seed. To get our attention, God often turns our lives upside-down, breaking up tough clumps of stubbornness and rebellion. Then, to soften our hearts even more, He keeps things churned up until we are submissive and workable. Rocks of selfishness and willfulness, which crop up daily, must be removed. Storms of life also tend to bring them to the surface.

But the seed needs nutrition to grow, and too many idle years result in a depleted soul, fallow and barren. To remedy this, the lime of prayer and the fertilizer of fellowship with more mature Christians must be applied—by the bagful.

But we’re not ready to produce a harvest yet, are we? Those weeds of worldliness must be carefully twisted out of our hearts, where their roots reach deep, leeching the nutrients and choking the tendrils of spiritual life.

Only after all this toil—plowing, tilling, hoeing, rock plucking, fertilizing, watering, weeding—can our soil-soul support growth and eventually produce a harvest.

But there is never, really, any one type of soil, is there? Perhaps that’s why I’ve always had trouble answering the question, “What kind of soil are you?”

I am not one type of soil, you see. I am all of them.

Dear God, thank You that soil can be changed. Thank You for changing me—little by little, rock by rock, weed by weed. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 13:3–9, 18–23.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Contact me @ michelethuey@gmail.com if you wish to use this.