Of Thorns and Fruit and Wandering Hearts

thornsSometimes I can’t figure out why my heart is so prone to wander. The lines of “Come Thou Fount” run through my mind– Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it! Prone to leave the God I love! The hymnist invites God to bind his wandering heart to Himself. And I can’t help but wonder why— why do I struggle so hard to stay near the God who has proven Himself so utterly good and utterly faithful to me?

Of course there are many different answers– flesh and deceitful heart and temptation. Even Paul, the great apostle of Jesus Christ, struggled with these questions ending with the cry Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?

I guess it helps to know I’m not alone.

My intentions are always so good early in the morning, when the sun is just coming up and my Bible is open and my coffee is hot and fresh. There are new mercies and I am here with my Savior and I commit myself to live according to what God is teaching me– to abide in Him, to humble myself before Him, to be a better wife– a better mother– a better friend. To be more like Jesus by serving others.

Then the kids get up, and the house gets loud. The dryer buzzes for attention, the eggs burn, the children fight and argue. Milk gets spilled. The phone rings. Math makes someone cry and the garbage truck drives by five seconds after I realize the trash never went out. My to-do list screams for me to do something about it, but instead I must coax proper spelling and handwriting and grammar out of a fifth grader who would rather be playing Minecraft. Bikes crash and there is blood. Dishes fall and there is broken glass. Farm equipment blocks my way to town. Dinner is late, bedtime can’t come soon enough, and what happened to my day and my resolve to love and speak life and encourage and to hug my children and listen to them talk about their lives, to be present with my family, to check in with my friend who is having a hard time?

I fall into bed exhausted and a new day brings desperation as I pour out prayers of failure and defeat– again.

Today God brought to my mind the parable of the soils, and this verse in particular–

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Friends, we are all very prone to be this thorny soil. I don’t think cares of the world are always things we think of as bad. And I think the deceitfulness of riches can be very subtle in our lives. One of the cares of my world that can choke out my fruitfulness is Facebook. I check it all the time. Even this blog– and checking to see how many people have read, or if I have any new likes or comments– can be a care of this world. And as for riches– I look around my house and see so much stuff. Stuff that I thought I needed but is so burdensome sometimes. All these things to take care of.

See, I can read that verse up there and think the cares of this world— well, clearly that means sin, and fleshly desires, and all that, right? But what if it just means all the stuff we let distract us? Maybe even good things? Would I have had time and mental energy to be a more loving mother yesterday if I had not logged into Facebook as frequently? It is very possible.

And as for the deceitfulness of riches— that always calls to my mind some high-powered executive chasing hard after a new car or second vacation home. But maybe it should call to mind the four skirts hanging in my closet that I never wear, or the overflowing shelves of my pantry cupboards. All these overabundant gifts that I cling to, that maybe I was meant to share. Instead they burden me.

I want to be the good soil that Jesus taught about–

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

fruit.jpgI want His Word to bear its fruit in my life, uninhibited by my stuff or my distractions. My heart is prone to wander– and prone to be choked out by the things I allow into my life that do not allow it to bear fruit.

I’ve had Psalm 119:37 as the wallpaper on my phone for over a month now. Maybe it’s time to start taking its words to heart:

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
    and give me life in your ways.

Give me life– and fruit– in YOUR ways, as I turn my eyes away from what is worthless (not necessarily BAD, just not worthwhile!) and turn them instead to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

This is abundant life.

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