Good Soil (by Len Winneroski)

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.  He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  Matthew 13:23, NIV

“Can I help you grandma?” Sarah’s large brown eyes watched her grandmother’s shaky hands as the elderly woman slowly opened a large bag of birdseed with a pair of badly worn scissors.  Sarah’s grandmother smiled as she carefully worked to open the bag.  “Can you help grandma find the bird feeder that needs more seed honey?”

Sarah twirled in delight and rushed to the back of the wooded yard to find the empty bird feeder. “I found it!” shouted Sarah as she jumped up and down pointing above her head to an old wooden feeder that was attached to a pine tree. “I can’t reach it grandma!” said Sarah as she stopped jumping and moved closer to the tree to study the old red bird feeder.

Sarah’s grandmother sung softly to herself as she carried the open birdseed to Sarah. “Can I pour the seed in grandma, PLEASE!” said Sarah as she ran to meet her grandma and help her carry the heavy bag of seed.  Sarah loved to be with her grandmother because she always let her “help.”

“Do you know what seeds are Sarah?” said the thin grey haired woman as she slowly bent down to embrace her granddaughter.  “Yes,” said Sarah as she pushed her round chubby face close her grandmother’s wrinkled cheek.  “God made bird seed to feed the birds.”  A smile spread across the old woman’s face as she invited the child to sit with her in the grass.   “You have reminded grandma of a story that Jesus taught Sarah,” said the grandmother as she squinted her eyes to concentrate.

“One day a farmer went into his field to plant seeds,” said the grandmother as Sarah moved from the grass to sit on her lap.  “Some of the seed fell out onto the bare ground and the birds came and ate it up.”  “Just like your birds grandma!” said Sarah proudly as she looked from the bag of birdseed to her grandmother’s face.

“Jesus taught us that seeds are like the words in the Bible Sarah,” said the grandmother with a tear forming in the corner of her eye.  “Sometimes people hear the words from the Bible but they ignore them, or forget them quickly, just like when the birds come and eat the seed off the ground.”

“A bird!” shouted Sarah as she pointed her chubby little finger to a tree at the back of the yard.  The bird flew into the air as soon as Sarah shouted and the little girl’s smile turned into a frown.  “But birds aren’t bad grandma, are they?”  “No sweet child,” said the grandmother as she gently pulled Sarah’s dark hair back from her face and started to braid it.  “Jesus made the birds, but he often used things in the world around him to teach us about Himself and the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“You are right about the seeds Sarah, God did make seeds to feed the birds.  Seeds are much more than food for the birds though.  They can also change from a hard little kernel into a beautiful flower or tree if they are planted into the ground where there is sunshine and water,” said the grandmother as she planted a single seed from her bag into the soil in front of them.  Sarah stood up and squatted down to watch her grandmother plant the seed.  “Can I plant a seed grandma?” said the little girl as she reached towards the bag of birdseed.

The elderly woman laughed as she grabbed a handful of seed and carefully selected one seed to give to her granddaughter.  “Go plant this seed over by those rocks Sarah.”  Sarah darted to the rock garden and grunted as she tried to move the rocks and find some soil to plant the seed in.  “It’s hard grandma!” said Sarah as she wrinkled up her face with effort.  “You are right Sarah,” said the grandmother.  “Jesus said that sometimes we like the words of the Bible and we try to remember them, but we stop believing them when life gets hard.”

The grandmother stood up and held out her hand for Sarah to join her.  “Lets go plant one of these seeds in my rose garden Sarah.”  “O.K.!” said Sarah as she gave up trying to push her seed into the rocky soil and ran to meet her grandmother.  “It will be easier to plant the seed in the rose garden because there are no rocks there, right grandma!” shouted Sarah as she wiped the dirt off of her hands onto her pants.

“I’ll plant this seed Sarah,” said her grandmother as they approached the flower garden. “Roses are beautiful, but they have thorns on the stems.”  Sarah watched her grandmother kneel down by the roses and plant a seed in the soil next to the roses.  “Come and feel how sharp the thorns are on the roses,” said the old prophet as she carefully bent a flower to expose a thorn.

“Ouch!” yelled Sarah as her finger touched the thorn.  “Jesus said that sometimes the words of the Bible are planted into our hearts, and we start to grow like a little flower, but eventually we start to worry and get too busy,” said her grandmother with a frown.  “You mean like if the seed that you planted grows up and gets pricked by the thorns on the roses around it?” said Sarah as she looked back at the thorn.  “Yes Sarah,” said her grandmother as her frown turned back into a smile.  “How did you get so smart!”

“Jesus said there is one more kind of soil Sarah,” said the grandmother as she let go of the rose and reached for Sarah’s hand.   “Can you find the first seed that we planted?”  “Yes!” said Sarah as she walked in front of her grandmother, pulling her back to the seed in the middle of the yard.  “It’s right here grandma!” said Sarah as she bent down on her hands and knees and put her face to the ground above the seed that they had planted.  “Good,” said the old woman with a gleam in her eye.  “Plant another seed right next to mine Sarah.”

Sarah raced to the bag of seed, tripping once in her excitement.  She studied the bag to find the perfect seed and then grabbed one and raced back to join her grandmother.  As Sarah began planting her new seed next to her grandmother’s seed, her grandmother continued.  “Jesus said that sometimes the words in the Bible are planted in good hearts that hear it, understand it, and then share the words of the Bible with others.”

“Why don’t all the people plant the words of the Bible in their hearts?” said Sarah as she finished planting her seed.  “I don’t know Sarah,” said the grandmother with a sad look on her face.  “We can only pray and make sure that Jesus’ words get planted real good into our own hearts.”  “We should do our best to share Jesus’ words with as many people that we can.”

Sarah stood up and looked at her grandmother silently for a few minutes thinking about everything that she had just learned.  “Grandma,” said Sarah with tears welling up in her little eyes.”  “Yes Sarah,” said the old gardener.  “Can we plant all the bird seed in the good soil instead of putting it into the bird feeder?” said Sarah with a look of concern on her face.

The seasoned teacher bent down and wiped the tears from her little gardener’s eyes with her wrinkled hands.  She held the small child’s face in her wrinkled hands and kissed her on her head and whispered,  “Your heart is good soil Sarah, you will plant many seeds for Jesus during your life my beautiful child.”

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