And as for what fell among the thorns, these are [the people] who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked and suffocated with the anxieties and cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not ripen (come to maturity and perfection). Luke 8:14
I spent a good deal of my growing up years on the farm; my family had a couple of lots on which we grew crops for our consumption and sale. For a young lad, harvesting beans was the most excruciating kind of manual labour. You see, beans is a crawling plant and at harvest, a bounteous crop would be spread all over the ground, and we would have to bend over in half to pick off the pods, and dump them into a sack as we walked – doubled over through the furrows. There was a particularly productive specie of beans that had so many pods on one plant, and kept us doubled over for so long in one spot, that we children named it the crippling beans, because you could barely walk after a day of harvesting that specie.
The next hardest thing was hoeing weeds, but it was probably the most critical thing in determining whether we were going to get a bounteous or piteous harvest. You see, we did our weeding manually. Just like we did picking the crippling beans, you double over, this time with your legs straddling the ridge, to give you the reach to swing your hoe across the two furrows on either side of the ridge. All the time being careful to not slice the tender plants as you deftly cut through the soil, just deep enough to take off the weed with its roots. The process and precision was almost surgical, your two hands working in symphony; one swung the hoe to take out the weed with some soil, and the other grabbed the weed just uprooted, and shook off the soil clinging to the root, then dumped the weed into a small mound to dry, all in one deft move.
Hoeing weed was critical. Weed have the tendency to proliferate, and the more there were, the less nutrients the crop gets. If weeds are left unattended, they soon take over the land and completely stifle the growth of your crop. A farmer who lets the weed alone will find that he has little or nothing to take home at harvest. This is what Jesus was referring to when he said that the seed – God’s word can be suffocated when it falls among weed; thorns and thistles.
Now a farmer’s worst outcome is to actually sow precious seed, and arrive at harvest to find a fruit that has not fully matured. This happens very often with a crop like corn. When a corn farm is poorly nourished because the crops have been choked and suffocated by weed, the corn cobs tend to come out looking shrivelled. To use the words Jesus used, “their fruit does not ripen – it does not come to maturity and perfection.” Similarly, our worst outcome is when we receive the seed of God’s word in our heart, but because we are pre-occupied with “the anxieties and cares and riches and pleasures of life”, we “do not ripen (come to maturity and perfection).”
It is important to realise that many of the things that constitute weed in our heart; the things that produce anxiety are very often legitimate concerns. However, the admonition is cast the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully (1 Pet 5:7). Jesus will take all of our legitimate concerns – “cast all your burdens on me” he says and in exchange, he will give us rest.
Let us look over the field of our heart today and consider whether the seed of God’s word will prosper on such an anxiety filled field. Better yet, let us take out the weed of anxiety today – let us cast all of our cares upon him, because he cares faithfully for us.