I’m sure I’m not the first one to think of this metaphor, and it happens to be curiously similar to Jesus’ parable of the sower, but here you have it…
The fields in my valley are still damp from a lot of April rain and the March snow melt. Streams running down the sides of mountains remain swollen, and the Battenkill River licks over its banks as it rushes toward New York state. Still, with a steady week of sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures the farmers have been able to plow their fields.
It’s a lovely site to see freshly turned soil where yellow, barren stalks once stood from the previous year’s harvest. Soon they will be sowing seeds, waiting for the corn and soy beans to emerge.
And that brings me to the role of reading scripture. I think we sometimes set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting miracles to happen, angels to descend, or the Holy Spirit to drop in as we read these sacred words. It’s not unreasonable to expect God to use scripture in powerful ways, and there are times when words jump off the page and into our lives, bringing renewal and the life of God.
However, in the grand scheme of things, I think that reading scripture is a way that God tills the stiff, barren soil of our lives, sows his word of life, and then, whether immediately or later, those words will sprout with life. In other words, we read scripture to get the life of God within us so that the Holy Spirit can water them and bring about new life.
Just as a farmer must always till, plant, and harvest every year, we have the same responsibility to continue reading scripture, sowing new seeds and allowing God to raise up new life. When we least expect it the seeds of scripture sown into our lives will be brought to life by the Holy Spirit.
I know, I know, I’m not exactly breaking new ground here. I think it’s been on my mind lately because I’ve found that I am using a lot more scripture in my prayers. God seems to be bringing up stories, verses, and words as I pray and man, it’s a really powerful thing. It feels like the Bible is so alive at those moments.