Never Quit Trying
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Long ago, a child was kidnaped from home. She was found 14 years later. Her parents went to identify their long-lost daughter. Based on a distinctive mole on her shoulder, they said she was their daughter, but she laughed at the strangers. The mother collapsed at the girl’s feet, trying to plead with her between sobs, but the girl spit on her, causing the mother a pain as bitter as when she first lost her daughter. Then the mother began singing cradle songs she sang over the girl when she was little. As the lullabies followed one after another, the daughter seemed to go into a trance, and then fell into her mother’s arms. A long-ago voice won the daughter. She had a strong, albeit forgotten and neglected, bond with her mother.
Long ago, God created us. We let Satan kidnap us, but in us a tie with God remains. A God-shaped hole haunts every heart. In the Garden of Eden, after we let ourselves be stolen, God came to us, asking our guilty ancestor, “Adam, where are you?” The Lord still walks the Earth, singing a lullaby to woo us back to Him, “Where are you?” It is a cradle song sad–grieving our guilt–and loving–desiring to be close to us again. His voice in us sings a gentle lullaby, “You are Mine.”
Humans were created with the capacity to personally know and love God. We the finite are wired to be able to respond to and receive the Infinite. Affinity exists between our hearts and God’s Word. They were made for each other.
Thus a question, why isn’t the Gospel more effective? Why do a majority not believe? Our last lesson dealt with one huge hurdle. Often we who have the seed don’t go and sow. At times we let the message be choked by the seed sack.
There’s no hope for sure if seed stays in its sack. Seed has to be cast, make contact with soil, but for millions, the two exist apart. God instituted a technique to connect seed and soil. Sowers are God’s agents to put seed in touch with soil.
Is this sowing and going enough? If we tell of Jesus, and people reject Him, is it our fault, or is something else a factor in the success or failure of the Gospel?
God who made seed also made soil, and sends the sower. Thus, what goes wrong when seed is sown on soil, yet God-ordained germination does not occur? This is the dilemma Jesus is answering in this short story. The hearer’s heart determines the outcome.
Hear our Master well. If we sow and go, responsibility shifts to the listener. A believer’s duty is to keep casting seed. Never quit trying to win others to Jesus.
Matt. 13:4 (Holman) As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and
the birds came and ate them up.
Fields were laid out in long narrow strips. This let lots of farmers have access to their crops from the main roads. Between the strips were no fences, but paths beaten down as hard as pavement. Seeds on these paths were easy pickings for the birds that followed a sower. They eagerly picked up what didn’t sink out of sight.
The hard soil pictures prejudiced unbelievers, those with a closed mind, and a pride that refuses to know it needs to know. Having hearts as hard as concrete, they make no pretense. They won’t take time to give God’s Word a fair hearing.
Some couldn’t care less about spiritual matters. They are like the Roman soldiers at the foot of the cross. They gambled for Jesus’ clothes, and then sat and watched, as little concerned as if watching a game of checkers (MT 26:35-36).
Many of us have loved ones hardened against Jesus. It’s discouraging, no, devastating. Remember, the sower was under no delusions about the success or failure of his work. Knowing many would be callused, He cast seed their direction anyway. We never know when a hard heart might soften and finally take time to hear God’s lullaby. Never quit trying.
Matt. 13:5-6 Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and
they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun
came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered.
In Israel, thin layers of soil often rest atop an underlying shelf of rock. The rock, holding water, and warmed by the sun, causes fast germination, but the roots are too shallow to support the plant, and it dies. Farmers call this “deceptive soil.”
We too can be deceived. We sometimes see in unbelievers what looks like a conversion, but zeal soon dies out. They fail to weigh in advance all it costs to be a believer. They don’t take time to think its ramifications through beforehand.
They quickly accept the benefits of faith, but rapidly wilt when faced with its duties. They never root, failing to be grounded in prayer, the Bible, a church.
We rejoice at dramatic conversions, but should use them as testimonies only after ample time proves their change is genuine. What is required of Pastors is wise for all we use as examples. “He must not be a new convert” (I Tim. 3:6a).
Many of us have loved ones who at one time attended church regularly, but now are adrift. This is heartbreaking, and can make us want to give up, but we must not. The sower knew failure would happen, yet cast seed toward the rocky soil anyway. Let’s do likewise. Don’t give up. God sings a cradle song over them. They heard it once. Maybe they’ll hear it again. Never quit trying.
Matt. 13:7 Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked
Farmers call this “dirty soil.” Cluttered with thorns and weeds, it pictures people who act like they’ve believed, but then many other interests begin to clutter up their lives. Our increasingly busy, crowded, and noisy world is bombarding us relentlessly with its trivial clamor. Useless information is exploding all around us. Shrapnel is penetrating our brains, and splattering on our calendars.
It’s easy to become too overloaded to pray, too preoccupied to read our Bible, too busy with the mundane to take time to meditate and attend church.
The problem is not necessarily bad actions, just too many. The chief enemy of best is not worst, but second best. Worldly-minded hearers have a divided mind. They’re not hostile to Jesus. They respect our faith, but want to live every spare minute, especially weekends, for themselves. They would make fantastic Christians, and do amazing things for God, but they can’t stay spiritually focused.
Many of us have loved ones like this. It can be depressing, but no farmer ever expects every seed to do well. This does not keep him from sowing. You are disappointed, but God hasn’t stopped humming His lullaby. Never quit trying.
Matt. 13:8 Still others fell on good ground, and produced a crop; some 100,
some 60, and some 30 times what was sown.
It may seem foolish to sow in unreceptive hearts, but we cannot give in to despair. We never know when bad soil may become good soil. Never quit trying.
We sow in hope. Sow also in patience. Pray for, but don’t set your heart on, quick results. Nature doesn’t make haste. Don’t be disappointed if the reaping doesn’t come at once. Harvest is sure. Some will be saved if we go and sow. God said, “My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and will prosper in what I send it to do” (Isaiah 55:11).
God’s words can appear to be a small, trivial seed in a huge, hostile, alien world. What chance does the Gospel have in a hard, shallow, thorny world? Give His word a chance, it has unseen innate power. We never know when unbelievers will be surprised and captivated by a cradle song from God. Never quit trying.