A long time ago, in a church far far away.... Well not that far and certainly not that long ago that it sounds like a Stars Wars epic, I preached about the sower. It is such a familiar story that we don't often dwell with it to see beyond all the normal things we've been taught to see. Of course that's true of most of our familiar and favourite passages in the Bible.
One day, so Jesus said, a sower went out to sow seed. The seed went everywhere, indiscriminately falling in all sorts of places. Good, fertile, well prepared soil; along the path, trampled down and hard by the passing of many a pair of feet. Some found it's way into gaps between hard ground and rocks where there was some soil, weed free but shallow and some of the seed bounced around in the thorn bushes until it hit the ground beneath them.
Every place you could imagine became home to a seed, the same seed.
But not all soil produces the same crop from the same seed.
Some of it rejects the seed because it's hard and the birds get to eat it, picking it easily from the surface. Some soil is too shallow to sustain lasting growth because it doesn't have the nutrients or it can't retain the water needed under the prevailing weather conditions. Some soil is too busy feeding weeds to provide space for the growth of the new seed, a more vulnerable seed than the apparently defiant, resistant and more resilient thorns and briars.
Some soil is good. It receives the new seed, nurtures it, sustains it and as result it flourishes, producing fruit that can go way beyond the imagination of the sower.
It's a great story, but what about the sower, the character almost at the heart of the story. Was he a success or a failure? An accountant might say he's a failure because he's careless about how he sows. He might get lucky with the crop he gets, but how much more could he have harvested if he'd been just a little more careful about the sowing process.
But what if the sower's only job was to sow? All he, or she, had to do was to give every type of soil the opportunity to work with the seed that was being sown. Whether the soil responded or not was someone else's responsibility. Are they a success now? You decide.
Just remember, if Jesus has called you to sow the seed of the kingdom of God, then don't ever forget to sow.