Clay Finklea

Clay Finklea

Lead This Gen Pastor

Till The Soil

A few weeks ago, I was on vacation with my family.. Katie, Keeley, and I always go to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. It is paradise for us – the views are great, the sand is rock hard, and the food is as good as it gets. I never fail to cherish that week with my family as the memories are priceless. If you don’t have a rhythm of getting away, wherever that may be, with your family, I would highly recommend finding a way to get one. It’s one of the most important things that you can do as it helps you reset and rest.

For me there is something about the process of getting away from the noise of life that rejuvenates my soul. When I take time to get away from the noise and busyness of life – I hear God speak to me through His word, books I read, or just time with my family. I am so thankful for that and I have come back rejuvenated because of this.

I know a lot of people who live and think that they are in an isolation voice-chamber of the wrong voices, that there is no hearing God because you haven’t. It may be life circumstances, the draw of social media, or just the busyness of life and that can be incredibly hard. When you don’t feel like you can hear God in your life, it doesn’t feel like you are really living.

The noise around is so present and in our face that it feels like you can’t even begin to think let alone let God speak to you. You might look at your kids’ ball schedule, your work schedule, and the 10 things you have to do to get through the day and think to yourself that there is no way for you to hear God communicate with you.

If that’s the case – as my vacation was a reminder for me, the quest reading in Matthew 13 might have really spoken to you and your soul. It might have been a scripture that you were trying to hunt and discover like water in the desert. You needed it because you feel like your soil is all sorts of messed up, that nothing can grow and that God’s word can’t be received.

I was struck by Mark’s words about the soil. “The life lesson is this: All the soil is actually the same. The difference is what is added to it – stones, weeds, or a good stomping.

I always read this as different soil. I was wrong. I love new insights. So what is the difference? What is added to it.

Yet that doesn’t give us the response to what we need to do if we are in a place of rocky, weedy, stomped soil. What should we do?

The answer is simple: Till the soil.

See oftentimes before planting seeds there are things that you need to do to prepare the soil. In a lot of cases it means you need to do what the internet says. “The purpose of tilling is to mix organic matter into your soil, help control weeds, break up crusted soil, or loosen up a small area for planting.

We can do the same thing spiritually. We can till the soil as we let God drop his seeds of knowledge to us through his word. But how?

1. Read with focus.

This directly relates to the concept of the busyness of life. Most of our time has been spoken for by things that we see, hear, and experience in our day to day lives. This causes us to

live in a state of distraction because we can’t decipher what we should or should not listen to. I heard on a podcast recently that the human attention span is now worse than a goldfish… Yikes.

So you have to read with focus. That means put your phone on the other side of the room, get in a place where you can be away from people for a moment, be there in silence. Then grab a notebook, write the verse that stuck out to you and why, then pray. That’s what focus looks like! How often do you read the bible in such a sense of distraction? Probably more than you would want right? So get that focus on!

2. Read with community.

Another mistake that people make is trying to do it all by themselves. Is some solitude a good thing? Yes and it’s needed. However, if you don’t take the time to discuss with other people, then you won’t get the depth that was needed. You will be in shallow soil.

It’s hard to be shallow when you are in community, it’s easy to be shallow by yourself. When you are able to sit, break bread, open up the bible with others it forces everyone to get in this together.

This is also important because there is going to come a time and date where life hits, you begin to fade, you stop reading and engaging… when that happens, if you don’t have a community that you are a part of, you will fade away. If you do have a community, they will pull you back in.

3. Read with purpose.

Some seeds fall on soil with weeds. What are the weeds of our lives? Worries, riches, and pleasures. One of the most dangerous things you can do is read the bible for what YOU want to get out of it. The reason why this is dangerous is because you will only begin to see what you want to see. You will take things out of context. You will make applications and assumptions based on your desires.

What we need to do is read with purpose. We need to begin the time we spend with God by asking him, “Lord, what do YOU want ME to get out of this.” That purpose changes everything because there will be times your toes will get stomped on. It’s for the better though because God is morphing you into the person he is designing you to be.

If you read God’s word with focus, community, and purpose that’s going to till the soil so that you are ready to receive the seed of God. The result of that is going to change our lives into something that we could only dream of. Remember – the good soil produces great results.

Matthew 13:8, “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

What would your life look like if what you were trying to accomplish was multiplied by thirty, sixty, a hundred times what you put in… Chances are life would be pretty great.