By Dan Amos
“Small differences in initial conditions … yield widely diverging outcomes” is part of the definition of chaos theory on Wikipedia. I can look back on my life and see where choices I made have completely changed my course. Obviously, one of those is whom I chose to partner with through life. And when Martin led a discussion on the parable of the sower from Mark 4, I realized that my wife has been a great contributor to my soil. Affectionately, she is my good dirt.
In the parable, the sower spreads seed on various types of ground—on the path, in rocky places, among thorns, and on good soil. The life of the seed was short and troubled on all but the good soil. Jesus said the seed in good soil grew and produced a crop, but He didn’t really define what was good about the soil.
Jesus implies it by saying what bad soil is; good soil must be able to protect the seed from predators, nurture the seed with depth, and give the seed space to grow free from thorns that would choke it out. What isn’t said is the ground has been plowed and fertilized. It is prepared to receive the seed.
I grew up in the church and was at a crossroads when I was pursuing Fran in my last year of college. I could have chosen a life of spiritual complacency, but Fran and I made finding a vibrant faith community a priority from the very beginning. Our first years together were very busy between getting to know each other, frequently moving, traveling for work, and starting a family. Our church community fed and nurtured us, but serving came later.
Elim, through Martin, challenged us to lead, first over a community group. I was asked to be an elder when I first held the prestigious position of elder of plugged toilets. Later, Martin asked me to preach one Sunday. All of these — my wife’s partnership, the fellowship of believers, and the pruning of service — all fertilized the soil in which I have grown. But if my wife hadn’t been my partner in the way she has always been, I would be in a different place. She has been my good dirt. I thank God for her and for those who have nurtured me.