A few weeks ago I led an amazing team of women on a short-term mission trip to Chicago. We only spent four short days in the city, but they were powerful four days. God showed up and worked through our small team to meet both physical and spiritual needs of the people we met. Our goal was to show crazy love to everyone we met, and our team did just that, but we were also shown crazy love right back. God is good like that!
Even though the trip was a few weeks ago, I'm still trying to work my way through some of the things our team experienced. Like I said, it was a powerful four days. There are some things I'm still trying to wrap my mind around, things I feel like God showed me or spoke to me while there, and some of those things I'd like to share with you. But the processing of these things take time. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I'll be able to process some things out loud and on the blog.
One of the things that really stood out to me was something that was actually shared during our orientation time by the base leader, Jesse, of YWAM Chicago (the organization we partnered with in the city). Jesse shared with us the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13. The farmers goes out to sow some seed and the seed falls on various types of soil: on the road, on rocky ground, among thorns, and on good soil. Depending on what type of soil the seed falls on, it's either eaten by birds, scorched by the sun, chocked by the weeds, or produces fruit. Since it's a parable, the physical part doesn't really matter; the spiritual does. Jesus tells those who are listening what happens when the seed (the gospel) falls on different types of soil (the condition of a person's heart). For some, the gospel doesn't make sense so it doesn't stick. But, depending on the condition of the heart, sometimes the gospel is received with joy and roots begin to grow! Unfortunately, sometimes the roots don't grow deep enough because there are rocks in the way that were never plowed up.
I'm not a farmer. I have a black thumb instead of a green one. Plants and I do not get along, just ask my boss and co-workers. I kill plants because I forget to water them. Or, I over water them because I'm trying to compensate for the lack of watering. Either way, plant stuff doesn't always make sense to me. Yet, for some reason, my ears perked up when Jesse was talking about the sower and the different kinds of soil and how it pertains to the whole idea of evangelism that I've been taught my whole life. If you've been a Christian a number of years, you know what I'm talking about: evangelism is all about planting, watering, and harvesting. Someone plants the seed of the gospel into the unbeliever, someone else comes along and waters that seed, until finally someone gets the joy of harvesting! (Anyone else thinks that's just a weird way of looking at people? Just me? OK.)
If you look back at the scripture, there's something that often times we miss. Maybe it's just me since I'm not a big plant person. But anyway, if you look at vs 21-22, it talks about the seed that falls on rocky soil. The person who hears the gospel with this kind of soil receives it with JOY! Their seed takes root and grows, but the root is shallow because there are rocks in the way, so that when trouble comes they quickly fall away. Now I don't know why the farmer planted his seed on so many different types of soil, but I'm guessing it's because Jesus made the story that way to make a point. And maybe this is His point about the rocky soil: the farmer missed a significant step in the whole farming process - plowing up the rocks.
What's the big deal about the rocks? If you look at the verses, it says that the rocks is what keeps the roots from going deep. The verse suggests that when trouble comes, the person falls quickly away from the gospel even though they first received it with joy and even started to grow. I'm no theologian, but my guess is that the rocks represent different things, such as being hurt by someone in the church or their misconceptions about God. Maybe they were judged instead of being shown mercy. Or perhaps they were told to leave the church instead of being given a second chance.
Whatever you've been taught, if you're a Jesus follower, you're a gospel farmer. (OK, that's just sounds weird!) Matthew 13 clearly tells us that we're to plant, water, and harvest. BUT we cannot forget that we're also supposed to plow the field aka BREAK THE ROCKS. There are lots of people in this world with hurts. People who have been judged, walked on, talked about, spit on, you name it. People who, instead of being shown out the door, need to be shown in. They need someone who is going to be there for them, showing love, grace, and mercy, just like Jesus did and still does. There are so many people who need to experience the crazy love of Jesus from you and me. When we do this, show this crazy love, it's then that the rocks in their lives will break allowing the root of the gospel to go deep. To penetrate heart, mind, and soul. To forever change them from the inside out. To receive the gospel with JOY and to maintain that joy even when the hard times come, because they know from experience the life-changing crazy love of Jesus.
I bet if you thought about it hard enough, you can probably think of a rock-breaker or two in your life. Those people who have shown you crazy love like Jesus. There are so many people in my life who've been rock-breakers for me. They've been there through the good times and the bad. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for those people who offered me grace and forgiveness in place of judgment. Second chances instead of being asked to leave. I also bet if you think about it hard enough, you probably know a few people in your life who need you to be their rock-breaker.
As you go about your day, remember that there are some people in our lives that need the rocks in their lives to be broken so that the gospel can take root deep in their hearts. Ask God to show you how to show them *crazy love* so that their rocks will be broken!