Jesus is talking to a large crowd gathered to hear his teaching and he begins to speak in terms of the farmer who scatters seed. Some falls on soil which is hard, barren, and just not going to bring forth any real growth because the seed cannot possibly break through the hardness of the soil. A little falls on soil which is kind of rocky, but with enough mixture of soil that it is at least receptive to the seed - allowing quick growth, but not deep growth. Then he begins to speak of a third type of soil which kind of intrigues me a little. It isn't the fourth type which is fertile, receptive, and able to bring forth deep growth, but a kind of untended soil. It receives what is placed there, but it hasn't really been tended in order to see the optimal growth from that which has huge potential if actually nurtured. I think there are times when we are each kind of like that third type of soil - receptive, but not willing to do the work to tend what we have received.
A third group hears the message, but as time passes, the daily anxieties, the pursuit of wealth, and life’s addicting delights outpace the growth of the message in their hearts. Even if the message blossoms and fruit begins to form, the fruit never fully matures because the thorns choke out the plants’ vitality. (Luke 8:14 VOICE)
What happened to the third place the seeds fell? Well, at first, it appeared to flourish. The seeds sprang up, they developed signs of growth, but because there were conflicting priorities for the soil (weeds of sorts), the good growth soon began to be "overgrown" by growth which actually choked out the good seed. We all run this risk from time to time because we get so distracted by the daily stuff which drags us into the mess it creates in our lives. The issue isn't that we work to eliminate them completely, but that we manage them better. A farmer will tell you it is impossible to get rid of weeds completely, but if you do a good job of tending the soil, you will come close!
Another thing we probably need to see is this idea of quick growth. We almost always want to buy into the belief that growth needs to be quick. If you have ever stood at the foot of a really big tree and considered the years and years of growth which went into giving it the size of trunk it has, the massive height it reached, or the depth of roots it has spread under its boughs, you probably know what I am about to say next. You cannot rush growth! Growth is a matter of time - but in the passage of time, there is a whole lot of tending to be done. We often get far less from the lessons we gain in life because we want to rush the growth which comes in the time of learning. We want instant, God wants permanent. We want magic, he wants relationship. You just cannot rush growth, nor can you expect it to be without effort!
Good things need time to grow, but they also need a whole lot of attentiveness. We have to tend to the seeds which have been sown in our lives, and that means we don't take our eye off them! When I made my first attempt at growing some tomatoes a couple of years ago, I planted them, ensured they had good soil and fertilized them. I provided water for them by placing them on a drip mist system on a timer. They were in a great place to get just enough sun, but not so much so as to scorch them. What I failed to recognize was this tiny green worm which launched an attack unnoticed! It worked under the leaves, not on top of them. Chewing from under those leaves, it left a wake of missing leaves on stems, but gave no clue where it was presently. I would turn over one leaf, then another, in hopes of finding the culprit. In time, I found one or two, removed them carefully, and then believed I had taken care of the issue. Wrong! Those creatures had a way of multiplying! I never did see more than a couple tomatoes that year - all because of a very cleverly and often unnoticed attack from the enemy of my tomatoes!
The very things which rob us of our growth may be the things which rob us of our attentiveness. Jesus claimed they were like weeds, sprouting up almost unnoticed at first, then launching into full growth until their growth overshadowed the growth of the good seed. Whatever we do in this world, we need to pay attention to the seed - giving it time and attention. In time, growth will come. If given the right amount of attention, the conditions for optimal growth are met. We don't rush growth - but we don't expect it without some effort on our part, either. Just sayin!