“A couple can hardly be open to any idea of God in their marriage if they are closed to the idea of God in their own personal lives.”
Parable of the Sower
We chose the Rose Garden for our meeting, to help us focus more clearly on the scripture reading of the Parable of the Sower. Bob and I enjoy gardening, and we especially love to stroll through this Rose Garden at the Marriage Mansion. Everything is so fresh and beautiful, and the soil is rich and conducive to growth.
This step in the Encounter is more of a leap than a step. We have been concentrating on our couple relationship and now the focus shifts to our willingness to listen to God. To be "open" to God means to listen from the core of my being. We have to ask ourselves two questions:
We ask ourselves these questions because God (our Higher Power) is a necessary ingredient in a lasting and satisfying marriage and also in life!
After He told the parable of the Sower, Jesus was asked why He spoke to the people, even his closest disciples, in parables. Jesus said that man's relationship with God and Jesus' teaching about that relationship weren't all that easy to understand--that people have a way of looking and not seeing, of hearing and not listening. His best hope was to speak to them in everyday terms about events they were familiar with and weave his message into the stories as parables.
These were ordinary people Jesus was talking to--farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and small shop keepers. The wealthy, the leaders and the priests of the temple were seldom in his audience. Even the Apostles and disciples who lived with Him and traveled with Him and heard His simple messages over and over, were saying to Him, right up to the very end, "Would you go over that one more time? We just don't seem to get it".
Everyone listening to the Parable of the Sower was very familiar with the setting. Farmers didn't prepare the soil--there was no plowing, fertilizing or irrigation. The farmer went into the fields with a sack of seed over his shoulder and spread the seed by hand, hoping that enough seed would fall on good ground, that it would get enough rain and sun to create a good crop.
But it wasn't all good ground. There were thorny bushes in the field--rocky soil--some soil with a lot of clay. He spread his seed to all the soil, stood back and waited, hoping that enough of it had rooted in good soil.
This parable was meant not only for the people of Palestine but for all of us for all time. We can all be a type of soil. The ways in which we listen to God and to each other reveal the type of soil we are. As we read the parable, let's reflect on its meaning for us. Don’t expect that everything will have special meaning for you -- perhaps just a few words will pop out or an overall impression will speak to you.
As you read the Parable of the Sower, try to relax. Breathe slowly and deeply. Picture yourself in the scene. Imagine that you are seated on a grassy field near the Sea of Galilee. The sun is hot and causes a white glare to shimmer above the lake. There is a light wind blowing across-the water and off in the distance a farmer is walking slowly along. The fields are uneven and dotted with patches of rock and thorny bushes.
The crowd begins to grow larger so that it draws closer and closer to the edge of the lake. People are jostling each other and struggling for a better view. Jesus sees a boat nearby and asks the fisherman if he can use it for a while. He pulls off a short distance from the shore and sits down. The crowd quiets down in anticipation. Jesus begins to speak, pointing to the farmer in the distance.
I remembered a statement the presenting couple made about the Parable of the Sower. “When we listen to God’s word with our mind and heart our soil is fertile and this experience will yield much fruit in our relationship with God.”
When I look at myself with this in mind, I can see more clearly how God is working in my life. When my soil is thorny, concern and worry about our children can consume me, leaving me tired and on edge, critical, and full of guilt, blaming myself for what I consider their shortcomings. Why did I fail to instill in them a greater love for church? Why did I fail to teach them how to communicate better? Why are they so self-centered and self-indulgent? Recriminations like this tear down my self-esteem and then I am unable to be as sensitive and loving to the children, or to Pat.
But by persevering in prayer, even when it seems I'm wasting my time, my soil is slowly cleared of the thorn bushes of fear and lack of trust in God's promises, and His word begins to take hold again. He says He will never abandon us, never leave us orphans and I know He means that not only for me, but for our children, too. As I let go of my anxieties and concerns and trust more, I can see more clearly the goodness in all our children. I become more loving and more affirming. When I stop to think about it, it’s an amazing transformation--wild, thorny soil nourished by prayer and faith becomes green, a rich harvest of hope.
As I read the Parable of the Sower, I’m struck by the words, “When the sun came up it burned the young plants, and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up.”
It occurs to me that the plants didn’t dry up because of the heat of the sun. Plants need sun to grow. The plants dried up because the roots were not deep enough.
That same principle applies to my life. My faith doesn’t weaken because of hard times, when I’m exposed to the heat. My faith weakens when my roots aren’t deep enough.
One way in which my roots grow deeper is when I read God’s Word in scripture. When my faith is deeply rooted in scripture, then I can withstand the heat of hard times. Just like the plants, I can then grow stronger because of the heat.
Therefore, my goal in life is not to stay out of the heat; it’s to keep my roots deep through prayer, reading the bible and being open to God’s love, thereby encouraging new growth.
We can experience the greatest potential in life and in our marriages when we are open to God working within us. Being open to God is a journey of faith we travel day by day, week by week, and month by month. The Word of God is one of the most important ways that He reveals Himself to us.
Now we’re going to take you inside to the Music Room where Ken and Susan will tell you how we discern God’s plan for our marriages. When the Music Room is not being used, guests of the Marriage Mansion often step in and play the piano. Some have real musical talent.
Here we are. Hope the rest of the day continues your growth experience. Bye
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