Did you know there is a Background Music Channel?
A few weeks ago I stumbled on it through Spotify and I confess, I may overplay it in our home. I usually enjoy having background music such as French Café, Morning Guitar, and others as I work to enhance my in-home experience right now. After a while, however, sometimes it just becomes noise. There are times when I lose this appreciation for it and I only want silence. I feel similarly about my news stream as well. After a while, those other adult voices seem to say the same thing over and over again. Then I take a break from these background sources of noise/music and, inevitably, I “re-discover” them soon enough. So goes the cycle.
It astounds me how we are drawn into cycles. From the time we are little kids, we subconsciously and knowingly yearn for routine. As we grow older, we are formed by our immediate cultures-family, friends, experiences, etc.-into a “normal:” normal times to eat, normal times to sleep, normal times to play, normal times to work, etc. Cycles give comfort because we can understand why something happens while predicting at the same time that there will be something beyond where we find ourselves currently. In such comfort many believe cycles give us purpose as well.
Recently, many of our congregational communities were opened to Jesus’ parable of the sower from Matthew 13. In summary, it goes like this: A sower went out, he scattered seeds along the road, in the rocks, in the thorns, and in “good” soil. Birds ate the seed on the roads, the roots did not have a chance to develop in the rocks, and the growth of seeds in the thorns was choked out. But the “good” soil allowed the seed to produce a hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold.
Usually a direction may be to wonder which soil we are-and that’s alright, we may do well to wonder where we are in relationship with the seed of the realm of God. I was drawn to the reality however, that this parable isn’t really about a “finish line” of some sort. The produce of the seeds will create more seeds which will be used in the coming seasons. This is a parable comparing the realm of God with a cycle of planting, growing (or not), and producing (or not). In the midst of their own harsh conditions, Jesus gives a cycle to his hearers with one sure step in mind-whether you grow or not, produce or not, God is guaranteed to plant. Because it is a cycle, that means God is guaranteed to plant over and over again. God doesn’t give up on that parts that didn’t work last time. God is guaranteed.
I do not enjoy gardening all that much, but my family does so I am dragged into it. I have become more aware this year of the care that needs to go into a seed after planting it. We tried to plant seeds in places where there was nothing before. Unsurprisingly, those seeds did not do well. We will try again, next season, we tell ourselves. But we will try a new approach with cultivating the soil, too.
I can imagine the sower thinking this as well. Maybe he was foolishly throwing seed where it shouldn’t have been, but that is an expression of hope. Plant and see. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, there may be a new approach next time. Hope abounds in the aftermath of the parable of the sower. Hope shows up in our cycles and routines-big and small. Hope abounds in God’s cycles.
What cycles are you going through right now? How has hope shown up in your life cycle up to this point? Where might the parable of the sower lead you today?