by:†††† Susan Davis
In Luke the eighth chapter, the Lord offers many valuable lessons for those who seek to serve Him in the parable of the sower and the soils. Among them is the vivid implication of the responsibility to cultivate the soil of the heart. The soil in which the Word will not grow contains hard ground, thorns, and rocks. But as those of us who have ever attempted to garden know, soil must be prepared and the battle to keep it softened is ongoing. Hard ground must be tilled, weeds pulled, and rocks cast out. I have been blessed to see the beauty of the process, both earthly and spiritually, many times. While the splendor of this earth is breathtaking, change created by the Word of God planted in the soil of a good and honest heart is truly an awesome sight to behold. I have at times, though, seen a corresponding tendency that is not as lovely. Once the garden is clean, many desire to forget the state in which it was first found. Like Adam and Eve once they recognized the shame of their nakedness, they want to hide (Gen. 3:8). The sins of our past and our current faults and weaknesses are an embarrassment to us, and we certainly donít want to be an embarrassment to the Lord or bring shame and reproach on the church for which he died. But, we must remember, nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad (Luke 8:17). The importance of admitting our faults is more than subtly suggested in the scriptures, we are in fact directly admonished not to hide the errors we make. Confess your faults one to another (James 5:16). Only the humble heart that recognizes its own shortcomings can be adequately grateful to the God of Heaven. David certainly erred in the eyes of God, but it seems to me that his attitude upon the realization of his sins just might be the quality that made him the apple of Godís eye. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. (Ps 51:3) There is, of course, a clear and necessary distinction between relishing in evil and keeping our own errors, and the lessons that have accompanied them, before us.
††††††††††† The examples of Christís temptation undoubtedly strengthen us and reassure us of our power to overcome through Him. While Christís example is the ultimate goal, it is often easier for us to identify with the apostles and the weaknesses manifested in their lives. They messed up, just like you and me, and yet, they continued steadfastly. In the same manner, our mistakes and examples of moving onward and upward in Christ strengthen those about us. So often, as we step more completely into the Light, we grow increasingly ashamed of the darkness of our past and wish to rid ourselves of the very memory. The problem with this plan is that it denies God the glory of the incredible change that has taken place.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
††††††††††† Our weaknesses evidence the extent of the manifold grace of God, and those we have overcome evidence the power of the Word to bring about change. This is not an excuse to make light of our past sins, or to continue in them to offer further evidence. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Rom 6:1-2) By all means cultivate the soil of your heart. Turn the ground, weed the garden, cast out the rocks, but donít bury them.
††††††††††† Not long after my husband and I married, we took a trip to Virginia. All along beautiful, shady, stretches of the countryside are rock walls that border gardens. As slaves cleared the land for farming, they made use of the plentiful rock of that region and built walls to retain good soil and keep out small destructive animals. Build a wall with your rocks; it will stand as a monument to yourself and others, of the measure of the gift youíve been granted.
††††††††††† Satan doesnít attack you where he knows youíre strong. Cling to the lessons, not to the shame. I often tell my children, ďLife is short, pack light, take your lessons and leave the rest behind.Ē God demonstrates this for us: And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb 10:17).
††††††††††† Our remembrance is to Godís glory, and is the contrast that adds dimension to the portrait of our spiritual freedom, which was purchased with the precious blood of the only son of the Most High God. Those things that are behind us should not hinder our growth. We are to forget them in the sense that they no longer have the power to bind us.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14)
††††††††††† As we grow, Paul is quick to remind us that only when we are willing to share the lessons, do we give God the glory. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Tim 1:15) Paulís statement does not indicate that he doubted Godís promise to forgive confessed sins (I John 1:9). Rather, it emphasizes that he had not forgotten the state from which God rescued him. To do so would be to deny the infinite grace and power of the New Testament dispensation and the mercy and faithfulness of its Author. God does not desire that we forget our cleansing. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (2 Peter 1:9).
††††††††††† Those who build walls with the rocks of their past will be well protected and continually reminded that the God they serve is all powerful, able to bring forth life and beauty where only death had reigned. We need to be reminded, and others need to know of such wondrous hope. So even if itís tempting, donít waste time burying your rocks. Christians are to be about the business of building.