Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, August 11, 2019

What was your first thought when you saw this photo? My first thought when I came upon this scene and took the photo was, “Looks like a whole lot of work happened here!”

And then I thought of two people. The second was Nick, my husband’s youngest sister’s youngest son. He’s an agronomist, otherwise known as a soil scientist, an expert in soil management and crop production. Or, as his father (who was very proud of Nick’s accomplishments) would tease, “He got a degree in dirt.”

He’s the only person in our extended family who has ever been on a billboard. A humble guy, he was not as excited as the rest of us were to drive along a South Dakota highway and see him loom above us larger than life on an agriculture-themed billboard.

Before Nick, the first Person I thought of when I surveyed this scene of a yard full of dirt and a bucket full of rocks was Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, who lived with one hand lifted up to heaven for help and the other hand lifting up people on earth. I thought of this story He told about soil management and crop production:

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  (Matthew 13:1-9 NIV)

The disciples had ears, and they heard, but they didn’t understand, so Jesus explained:

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:18-23 NIV)

I’ve learned as I’ve watched and listened to Nick that farming in North America is often a high-tech business, with huge farm machinery guided by computerized programs as farmers plant and care for their crops. His job is to provide the farmers with as much good information and help as he can, but he knows that it is God who brings in the harvest.

O to be the good soil, ready for God to plant His Word and His goodness in me! To ask Him to dig out the rocks in my life and help me put down deep roots! To let Him weed out the thorns and guide me and nurture me and bring in a harvest from what He has done!

Thanks be to our Good Gardener, Jesus, who was not afraid to get His hands dirty. He didn’t abandon His friends when they sinned in the first garden; He poured out His heart to His Father God in Gethsemane garden; and He rose from the garden tomb as our victorious Saviour! All glory and praise to Him!