“And to Adam [God] said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:17-19). 

“Our” yard has just won the neighborhood’s worst yard of the decade. That’s really bad considering there are almost 9 years left until 2020. I guess this means the subdivision’s lawns and grounds committee doesn’t have much hope it will improve anytime soon.  Frankly, I don’t blame them. It’s definitely hideous and borderline grotesque, a bona fide embarrassment. My first count found a total of 7.737 blades of grass. The rest is weeds. I’m ashamed every time I mow our “dandelion farm” and kick up dust running over the brown spots where the grub worms even killed the weeds. It also literally makes sick – my allergies flare as the mower causes a blizzard of dandelion thistles. But the human spirit, especially when driven by shame, seems to be indomitable. 

With advertisements for lawn care companies appearing daily in our mail  (some are actually little flags planted in the yard further identifying the ugliness of the landscaping and exacerbating our neighbor’s scorn and ridicule), I’d had enough. I looked up the word agronomy in the dictionary and we headed off to Lowe’s and then Home Depot. We listened to various opinions while nodding my head emphatically despite not having a clue what they were saying (and none actually agreed on the proper course of action to alleviate the eyesore our yard has become). We ended up purchasing Kentucky fescue seed, Scott’s Weed and Feed, and an oscillating sprinkler. ‘That would do it,’ I thought. 

Wrong! 

I’ve spread and spread, watered and watered. And, even after a rain of Noahic proportions, I found more weeds, more dandelions, and but one new blade of fescue. And I believe that was one that I had previously overlooked. My new total is now 8.737 blades! To impress the neighbors with my concern, I often meander through the yard, stand for moments at a time, and stare at the ground as if the beams of fury shooting out of my eyes would actually cause the grass to grow and the weeds to disappear.

But to no avail. My yard (it used to be “our” yard until it became the scourge of the neighborhood), it seems, is completely unreceptive to anything that would make it beautiful and healthy. It rejects my most arduous and passionate attempts to clean it up and make it what it should be. It mocks at my desire and intense labor to restore it to its former glory. It laughs as I spastically flail my arms and run in circles to escape the hundreds of wasps (I’m allergic) that have taken up residence in this “wasp heaven” of a weed patch. 

As with everything in life there is a spiritual lesson here. And this lesson is even bigger than the curse of the ground found in Genesis 3. I think the larger truth can be seen in the Parable of the Sower, as we read it in Matthew 13. You probably know it – it’s the one where the seed falls on 4 different types of soil, with both negative and positive results. If not, read it in the first 9 verses of that chapter. It is truly a critical message about the word of God and the soil of our hearts. I will not try to interpret this text for you but instead leave you with Jesus’ explanation of His own teaching: 

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 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. 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” (Matthew 13:18-23).

So what does this mean to us? How might God be speaking to us about His word and the soil of our hearts? Are we the kind of soil that bears no fruit? If not, this parable tells us why. Are we good soil? Then we should be producing good fruit that glorifies Him. In other words, we shouldn’t be like the dandelion farm called “my” yard.

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