The Parable of a Potted Plant

How many potted plants have you killed?

Over my life time I’ve gotten better at keeping them alive but in the beginning not so much. I’m pretty sure that my reputation as a black thumb was well known throughout the plant kingdom. So much so that plants would pretend to already be deceased to avoid my selection when I walked the aisles of our local nursery. Coleus would coward, ferns would faint, and philodendron would phade. You get the picture.

I would select a few victims anyway and take them home with every intention in the world of giving them a long and loving life. They were usually in the compost pile within the month. I thought, well maybe the plants I picked were unhealthy to begin with so I got the idea to try growing said plants from seeds. That led to a plethora of mud pots. So now I let the plants live and enjoy their beauty in my neighbor’s landscaping. Although I do think they lay low when I pass by.

This past weekend, Pastor Mark at our church walked us through the parable of the sower from Matthew 13. His message brought back the memories of my seed sowing potting attempts from years gone by and got me thinking in a new way about the sower’s story. Here’s the text from Matthew 13:

‘That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop that was a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’

Seed was scattered everywhere and for various reasons the sowing would fail. From the path, to the rocky places, to the shallow soil, to the thorns, and finally to good soil. We read that only in the good soil did the seed grow and thrive. The failure and success of the seeds also showed me a parallel in the parable of my own life.

In my life, some ideas and decisions, some seeds, have germinated and others never took root. Some have grown and bloomed while others broke the surface then withered quickly away. Some grew large while others remained small. Not everything grew and those seeds that did grow did so in different ways to different heights. And some grew so large that they had to be uprooted and transplanted to a larger space to continue growing.

The process continues.

Life events have shown me that just like when a potted plant has grown too large and can’t grow anymore in the space it’s been in, it’s time for me to replant. Just like plants, our lives are meant to grow to the full extent that God has created us to achieve. Graduation, marriage, divorce, children, job changes, new homes, illness, and death of loved ones. All these life events are times when the soil we’ve been living in is perhaps no longer the soil we can grow in.

It’s not easy to uproot and replant. Sometimes in the process there’s damage to our roots and our growth is slowed down by the trauma of the transplanting. But we know to grow we must move to a larger space, a healthier place, and with time our roots will take hold again and our lives will start to regenerate. New growth will break through.

For me the past four years have been a process of uprooting and replanting. Of stagnation and growing. Of failing and retrying. It’s feeling like another time of transplanting for me. After living in a four bedroom home, then a two bedroom apartment, then for the past one and a half years in my RV (the USS Terra in case you’ve forgotten), and now a two bedroom apartment again, I’m looking at moving back to my hometown and buying a house to use as my home base. Still looking forward to adventures on the road but not living full time in the Terra. I’d like to become a part of the community again back home and contribute to the comeback, the new growth, that’s happening there. So, the Doodle and I are in the process of finding a new pot and hoping to have that pot picked by spring. Maybe early summer.

One last thought. Where do we find the good soil? I’m thinking it’s not always in a specific place but rather it comes down to how we cultivate the soil we plant ourselves in. Some soil is perhaps just not any good and we need to replant but I think most times the soil we spread our roots in can become good soil if we just look to the Sower and follow His ways of tending and nurturing so that the soil and ourselves will become the all that He has created us to be.

Hope your soil is good. May you grow to all you are intended to be.

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