In the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13 and Luke 8, Jesus talks about four different types of soil that describe four different conditions of a person’s heart. He says the seed is the word of God and the first type of soil he describes is the traveled road (or hardened ground; this is the ground that everyone walks on around the garden. It has not been plowed or prepared to receive the seed and so the birds of the air (which represent the devil and his cohorts) come and eat the seed immediately after it is sown. Jesus said this represents those who hear the word of God and do not understand it, so the devil immediately comes and steals it out of their hearts and it never comes to fruition. I think this represents the hardened heart or again, the heart that has not been prepared to receive God’s word.
So how do we prepare our hearts to receive the word of God? The Bible says that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4:8). Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”
I remember when I was a young woman just having graduated from high school and it seemed like everything came to a dead end in my life. All of my close friends got married or were engaged during or within a short time after high school and I felt really alone. I moved back to Citrus County and lived with my close friend and her family and went to Central Florida Community College for one semester. At the end of that semester, I moved back home since I felt burned out on school, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and my friend was getting married soon. It seemed the person I was in love with did not have the same level of feelings for me and I went through a time of deep depression, to the point where I asked the Lord to let me just go to sleep and not wake up, but when I woke up the next day, still here, I decided that the Lord must have a purpose for my life and I needed to find out what that was. I felt that if I was going to come out of the depression, I was going to have to seek the Lord because I knew he was the only one who could help me. I started getting up an hour early every morning (and those who know me know I am not a morning person) and driving to the church so I could have time alone with the Lord before going to work. I quit watching television at night and began reading the Bible until I fell asleep every night. God’s word began to come alive to me. I began to understand what it meant and how it applied to my life and what the Lord was speaking to my heart through it. Although I started coming out of the depression, I still battled loneliness and had my ups and downs. I remember at one point crying and beating the wall and yelling at the Lord saying “why did you ever let this person come into my life if you knew that he was just going to hurt me over and over again?” (This person was not intentionally trying to hurt me, he just didn’t know what he wanted and I later realized he was not the person God intended for me). I believe it was that evening or maybe the next when I opened my Bible to Deuteronomy 8:2-3, which reads: “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart whether you would keep his commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” (NKJV).
Although I had loved the Lord since I was a child and was born again at 14, this was a new season in my life. The Lord wanted to take me into a deeper walk with him and so he allowed me to go through a trial that caused me to begin seeking him and studying his word with everything I had and I found him! Hebrews 12:1 says “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV).
After that I started getting opportunities to teach God’s word at my church in Dade City, Florida; first the children, then the teens, young adults and finally adults. Although I still felt some loneliness, I began to have more joy because I found God’s purpose and calling for my life.
I met my husband when I was 24 and married him just before I turned 25. I am thankful for the years that I had so much alone time with the Lord, because it helped me to really get to know him and his word in a deeper way and find out who I was and what his purpose was for my life.
It’s not easy to go through trials and hard times, but sometimes that is what it takes to make us ready for a change and ready to really go after God. Hosea 10:12 says: “I said, plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.” (The New Living Translation). By Kelly Rowe