June 15, 2020

Soil for Tulips

Devotion for the Week...

I planted tulip bulbs in our front yard a couple of falls ago. The first spring, they came up and bloomed in a beautiful line in front of the brick wall. The next spring, they came up again, but there was a gap in the line of about a foot where nothing came up. I meant to plant a couple more bulbs there that fall, to fill it in, but I forgot. Then came this spring and I have only 7 tulips. There are spots where tiny leaves came up, but no bud ever formed. Along most of the wall, though, there is no sign of tulips at all. I'll need to plant new bulbs this fall, for sure.

I'm no expert gardener, so I'm not exactly sure what happened. I know that deer commonly eat tulip bulbs, but there are no deer in Newfoundland, so I know that's not the problem. I have a feeling that I didn't give the tulip bulbs the proper nutrients that they needed. I've read about tulips needing bone meal, but never actually added any to my soil and I'm guessing that negatively affected their ability to continue growing.

Jesus told a parable about a farmer scattering seeds and the different types of soil the seeds landed on: "Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand" (Matthew 13: 3-9).

This was then followed up by the explanation: "The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!" (vv. 19-23).

Here's the thing about this parable - the seed is always the same. What affects whether or not the seed sprouts and the plant thrives is the soil it is planted in, not the quality of the seed. Likewise, God's word is always the same and whether or not it will produce fruit in someone's life is determined by that person's heart, not by the quality of the Word.

I've always thought of the people mentioned in the parable's explanation as being static, but the reality is that people are always changing. We may be too focused on the worries of this life one day, but another time we may be receptive to God's message. Or we may be receptive today, but too worried about what people think another day. Or maybe we don't understand one day, but another time the words click and we get it.

The question is never whether or not God's message good. It is always good. The question is whether or not we are able to receive the message and produce fruit because of what we hear. In other words, is our soil good for the seed? 
Are you good soil for God's message today | DevotedQuilter.com
Background quilt is Burst

What makes us good to receive the message and produce fruit? According to Jesus' explanation of the parable, we are good 'soil'
  • when we understand it. We need to be paying attention to the message, whether we're listening to a sermon, reading a book or reading the Bible. If we don't understand what we hear or read, we should look into it more so that we can understand.
  • when we grow in our faith. If we stay with only a shallow faith, then we're in danger of turning away from God when there is trouble or when people challenge our beliefs.
  • when we don't put too much emphasis on worry or chasing 'stuff'.
How is your soil today?


  1. Sometimes God "amends" our soil like adding bone meal to the soil around your tulip bulbs.
    The last few years I've endured "manure" spread on my soil but it sure has made my faith grow!

  2. You’re so good at writing about such things. Thank you for a refreshing look at this scripture. Our seed-nurturing efforts constantly change... but God doesn’t. I’m so grateful He is steadfast, as my emotions and intentions are ever-changing and evolving.


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