Pickin' Rocks


Rocks. Rocks. And more rocks. That sums up the dirt in my yard.

When you have a house built on an ancient river bed, you get a yard full of river rocks. They’re nice rounded rocks that come in all kinds of colors and sizes, but rocks nonetheless. By the way, the picture of rocks above came from my yard!

I must make a confession here. My lovely wife Disa dug them up. Why, you ask? To prepare the soil for future flower beds. Disa knows what all good gardeners know—good soil produces beautiful flowers.

It is true in life as well.

Jesus, who was a phenomenal communicator, said as much in his parable of the soils (Matthew 13:1-23). In this story, He describes a farmer who sows seed into four types of soil and the resulting productivity. He not only tells the story, but He explains the metaphors directly to his disciples—and indirectly to us.

First, there was hard pack, which represented the hard-hearted soul where the seed of God’s word is snatched away by the devil—nothing grew. Second, was rocky ground which Jesus said describes the person who accepts the way of God with enthusiasm—but only for a short while. They soon drop out of the faith because of life’s troubles and persecution. Third, was a person who had incredible potential, but their relationship with God was choked out by worry and chasing stuff. Lastly, Jesus described the person God is most pleased with—those who live fruitful lives. Fruit born from a good soul. A soul that not only welcomed the word of God, but actually acted on it.

Jesus’ parable doesn’t pull any punches, does it? He punches the listener (or reader) right in the gut. How? By forcing them to look in the mirror and ask, “What does the spiritual productivity of my life indicate about the condition of my soul?”

However you answered that, and yes, most of us still have a lot of room for improvement, keep one key thought in mind:  Soil can be improved. It doesn’t have to stay hard, rocky, or full of weeds. But soil improvement is hard work, up close, and personal. In other words, like my wife’s effort to improve her future garden beds, you’ll have to get your hands dirty by digging out the rocks and the weeds that hinder God’s way from taking root in your soul.

It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lifetime of tiny steps in the right direction.

Soul digging may require us to add new spiritual disciplines to our lives such as joining a Life Group, daily Bible reading, and regular church attendance. Let me be really honest here. Some of us may need professional help to dig out the roots that have caused us so much hurt and pain. I’ve sat in a chair across from a trained counselor and opened up my soul. Scary? You bet! Needed? More than you’ll ever know. The results? Perfection? Of course not! But steady fruitfulness as a disciple, husband, father, and friend.

Here’s my question: what is one thing you can do today to improve the condition of your soul to ultimately bless you, God and others?

It’s a crazy life,

Dr. Tony

Tony L. Nelson, Dmin

Jonathan Schuler