As Lent starts, I always feel like it’s a New Year’s Eve 2.0. For my whole life I’ve been in the church and growing up in the church means that each year, when Lent comes around, I inevitably try to come up with something that I should give up for 40 days (not counting Sundays, look it up!) and I would always use this to re-up on some New Year’s Resolutions that I inevitably had already failed on.
There were some years I gave up sweets or fast food or social media to “live in solidarity with Jesus in the desert,” “relying on God,” when my trial of REALLY wanting that Reese’s Cup came around. It has come to my attention in the past few years that these types of “sacrifices” really serve to cheapen the whole Lenten experience for me.
We started Lent this year with a drive thru imposition of ashes where the pastor puts on your head or hand a cross of ashes and says, “You are dust, and to dust you will return.” A reminder of our impermanence on this earth. A reminder that we will all die someday. Whether this is the intended meaning or not, this tends to hyper focus me on the life I’m living right now.
We also started this year’s Lenten Sundays with a sermon preached on the parable of the sower. Scattering seeds seemingly everywhere. If we take a look at that sower from the perspective of anyone who has ever sowed anything ever, he did a terrible job!
Sowing seeds on the road, on rocky ground, among thorns? Any farmer worth anything at all would tell you that that’s a waste of good seed. Now I know that the classic definition of this parable is that God/Jesus is the sower and we are the soil, and will we allow God’s word to grow in us. This is the classic understanding because Jesus explains the parable this way just 4 verses after telling it.
BUT, what if we looked at it from a different perspective. What if instead, WE are the sower in the story, and the seed are all the hopes and desires we have for our future life. I feel like I resonate with the hapless sower in this story. Trying to sow my seed of a higher wage, lower debt, starting a family, making a difference, owning a home, keeping old friendships, losing weight, helping others, following my passion, etc.
Like the sower in our story, I tend to just throw the seed randomly, hoping that this time it will find good soil. This is how I feel we approach Lent most years. Throwing our “do a daily prayer” or “eat less chocolate” seed randomly, hoping that we find good soil and feel more in tuned to God or healthier as a result.
There’s a common phrase, “you reap what you sow,” but I think an addendum needs to be made to that for hapless sowers like myself. You reap what you sow with intentionality. We need to look at what we want to reap, (more time with family, a healthier mental state, a more Christlike mindset, etc.) and we need to take the time to find the good soil and intentionally sow our seed there. What will truly help me to accomplish this? How can I tend to it every day? Lent is an invitation or be more intentional with sowing our seeds.
Let us take the time now, at the beginning of Lent, to sow our seeds intentionally, to continue to water and weed around them throughout the Lenten season, because it is by doing this that we will see true change in our lives, it is through doing this that we can truly affect who we are, where we’re going, and what we’re focused on, so that hopefully someday we will see some fruits of our labor from our seed sowed in the good soil. Amen.