THURSDAY, March 26, 2020

Luke 8:11-15

This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

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At various times in my life, I have identified with each scenario in this parable. Lately, though, it’s been more of a battle with the third example keeping me from living the fourth. The cares of the world have a way of taking my good intentions of spending time with the Creator and turning them into anxious distractions about the troubles of the world: paying for unexpected home repairs, meeting all of my commitments, and spending too much time escaping on the Internet, to name a few. The thorns of this world surely do have a way of choking out the word of God.

How does this relate to the season of Lent with its emphasis on penitence and fasting? I have never been much of a practitioner of fasting, perhaps because, by quirk of personality, I’m extremely moderate (if one can be extreme in moderation) and I saw no need to give up anything. I have been thinking, however, more about the purpose of fasting. At its root, I believe, it removes distractions between me and God, which reminds me of a recent change to our house. We had a landscaper come and clear out our front yard from years of neglect and suddenly we could see our entire house from the street. All those weeds and pine saplings had kept our house hidden from the outside world. Perhaps I could use a little pruning of life’s thorny worries so the view between God and me is less obstructed. Can one fast from the distractions of the world? I don’t know, but I would like to give it a try this Lenten season.

John Clark