|BigD after working in his garden.|
"Some fell along the path..." Mark 4:4 "Some fell on rock..." Luke 8:6
The path where everyone walked was trampled often so it became packed down, too hard for seed to take root. The same goes for the rock.
We must try to keep our children's hearts soft and sensitive so that God's Word can take root and grow there.
My husband is gearing up for planting his garden in a few weeks and today he spent a couple of hours tilling up the soil and spreading his carefully conserved compost pile to make the soil loose and rich in minerals. He has to do this because we live in West Texas and NOTHING would grow if he didn't carefully prepare his soil.
How can we till the soil of our children's hearts?
Maybe the easiest way of looking at this is by seeing the contrast to the pharisees who were condemned for having hardened hearts. What made their hearts hard so that they could not recieve the Word? Pride, self-righteousness, legalism? Then we want to cultivate humility, compassion, and mercy in our children. Was their conscience seared? Then we want to help our children to keep a clear conscience. Were they liars, deceiving even themselves? Then we want to help our children establish the habit of honesty.
The blades of my husbands tiller are sharp and it's hard work tilling up the clay in the spot where he wants his vegetables to take root. It takes a lot of sweat and toil. Parenting can't be done in sound bites or status updates. It's laborious and time intensive. The soil of their hearts must be turned over and over and over again.
My husband also spends all year building his nutrient-rich compost pile to help soften and enrich the soil.
How can we soften and enrich our children's hearts?
By preventing bitterness, cultivating loving hearts, helping them to be sensitive to others. By modeling forgiveness for them and helping them to forgive others. By showing them grace as well as discipline.
Have you noticed this almost seems like a conundrum? We can help our children to be receptive to the Word of God if we teach them to obey God's Word. There's a head scratcher! Help them to believe the Word by training them to obey it. For obedience to God's commands cultivates tender hearts, while disobedience leads to hardened hearts.
So the first principle is simply to saturate our children with the Word of God. Read it to them, help them memorize it, explain it to them, and most importantly live it out in front of them. (Sounds a lot like Deuteronomy 6 doesn't it?) And notice also that our time with our children in the Scriptures is both the act of planting and at the same time aids in softening their hearts to receive the Word.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7
But sowing the seeds and preparing the soil isn't enough. In part 2 I'll examine the importance of watering the seeds we plant.