Reading the parable of the Sower in the text above suddenly lit up very vivid and practical images for our modern day living, and in particular in our response to HIV. It is always interesting how Jesus uses stories to make the lessons easier for the crowds, and for us to understand. The power of storytelling!
The story of the Farmer going to plant his seed is one interesting and popular one. The second part of this account where he explains this parable is what I will focus on.
V19 – Seed on the Footpath: hear but do not understand, birds eat seed.
Let us try to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who hear but lose the Word so quickly, and try to understand not just the losing part but also what Jesus explains that ‘they do not understand it’ (the Word). If we also consider that the Evil one, because he knows how much power is in that word to change a person’s life, quickly steals what was planted in the heart, I believe this draws from us compassion and the love with which we should have for Gods people. Remember, we are compelled by the love of Christ. The words of the Ethiopian Eunuch ring in my ears when he says in response to Phillip’s question, ‘how can I understand except someone explains the scriptures to me?
Can we ask ourselves the same question, when we think of the complexities that HIV brings in the lives of people and the lack of ‘understanding’? Can we not compassionately be those ‘teachers’ who will care to explain till understanding is birthed? Can we not water our input with prayers for God to send more people in this field until that understanding is birthed?
V20-21 – Rocky ground: hear, with joy, but no deep roots.
As I read through these verses in the context of HIV and AIDS, I could not help but see the pain and bitterness that our world deals on us as affected by the pandemic, how much brokenness still exists. These verses spoke to me about the difficulties of finding the right and good support systems in our communities and societies to actually enable us to ‘keep’ the Word of God. Or to keep the true and accurate information taught about HIV. When we are enlightened about issues it is difficult at times to understand those who aren’t yet. And I have found that in many places myths and wrong information about HIV are still alive in communities. Some have correct information, but dare not speak out due to the fear of stigma and persecution that arise, the ridicule and blame, the list goes on. Yet if we dare to stand up when no one else will, to be the support that a brother or a sister can lean on, then slowly those fears will go away. Can we help build those roots until there is enough support within and strength for one to stand on their own? We are the Body of Christ, we can support one another in such ways, with His strength we can.
V22 – Seed among thorns: hear the Word which gets choked.
This word gets choked by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth and all that is on offer in the world’s market. These are fears like ‘What will people say about me in this situation?’; ‘What if I die now?’; “There is too much I will miss out, therefore I will forego this (which will actually bring or save life) for the pleasures ahead of me’. Can you see right there someone who lacks the will power and motivation to do that which will give them life at the end of the day, even if they saw or knew the truth. So can we lend a patient hand to lift up that person, so they are not choked but can receive life?
The last verse 23 – The fertile soil: Fruitfulness
This is a high-note end of this story. How wonderful it is to blossom together in receiving and sharing the message of love and hope in God’s word, in such a time of HIV and AIDS. How beautiful to cheer each other on, provoking each other to good works to help, strengthen and encourage, to be a success and bring success as well. To understand and bring forth the ‘harvest of thirty, sixty or even a hundred times as much as had been planted’.
Can we be that person who is willing to be fruitful and raise other successful people who will raise more and more till we have spread light all around us?
Reading this account encouraged me to see through different lenses that not all hope is lost when attempts to steal the Word are made, or to choke it out and totally destroy it, but that when we care enough to stay (stick it out) and be the light despite the situation, many things will actually change.
To think about: Where is it that you need to ‘stick it out’ till there is light and life?
Mrs Minenhle Moyo is Programs Manager at Family Impact SA and a trained Channels of Hope Facilitator