Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Tuesday, March 31
Read Matthew 13:1-23

But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit. … (v 23)


I often wonder what makes someone good soil or bad soil in terms of hearing the Word and incorporating it into their daily lives. As I have grown older, I have been amazed at how some of the smallest of people will do and say the most extraordinary things and demonstrate a life full of faith and love. They just seem to ooze God from their very pores.

Take, for example, my niece, who is only 5. She eagerly tells me about God and Jesus when she sees me. She is filled with love. She is excited to share a prayer with me over a meal. I also have a cousin who has been eager to share his faith. He has journeyed to Alaska on mission trips to Native American reservations and takes an active role in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is excited about his faith and life. Both of these relatives and many more friends and family bear good fruit. When you encounter them, you cannot help but think that God is real and an active part of life.

I am equally amazed and yet confounded when a close friend chooses a different path — a path apart from God.

One of my college friends recently confided in me that he is an atheist. His confession was that he had done all the academic work of Christian theology and yet realized that he didn’t believe any of it. He still attended services on Christmas and Easter and maintained cultural connections to the church. But, he admitted, his faith was gone.

I’ve had several close friends throughout the years admit to me that they have become atheists. Sometimes I am troubled by this and wonder what’s wrong with me that close friends have turned away from God when life gets difficult. I still maintain friendships with most of these people and will continue to do so as long as possible. But I can’t help but wonder why. Why do some turn away and others do not? Why aren’t all people good soil?

Then I am reminded of the promises of God and how the Holy Spirit calls, gathers and enlightens the church according to his purpose. I am reminded of phenomenal stories of atheists turned believers like C.S. Lewis, who discovered in Narnia an intimacy he had never known before with his creator. And I am reminded through stories like these that we can’t fully know the mind and purpose of God. What may appear to us as awful, rocky soil may in time turn out to be the most fertile soil of all.

Tim Garrels

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