“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
–Matthew 13:20-23 (NIV)
Tim stood on the shoulder of the road, with his white cane in hand and his thumb out. The fact that he couldn’t see the cars didn’t stop him. He was determined to get where he needed to go, and he had stood there for some time.
Beginning to get discouraged, he thought, “This is foolishness! I can’t even see where I’m going.” But knowing the general direction in which he was headed, he decided to stick it out.
A few minutes later, he heard what sounded like somebody pulling over, and he took heart. The engine was loud, and it sounded like it belonged to a truck. Tim felt along the body of the vehicle frantically, but his search for the door was in vain. Time was running out, and he had to find the door before the driver left, so Tim continued to hunt furiously.
In reality, what seemed like hours probably only took a few seconds. With busy traffic whizzing all around them, however, the driver and would-be passenger were both growing more impatient. At last, the trucker laid on his horn, and Tim gratefully climbed into the cab. Then the truck sped off, and Tim began to relax.
“Relax?” you say. “That was just plain dangerous!”
Yes, I have to agree, and as you may have guessed, that really happened to yours truly. My hitchhiking adventure was indeed risky, but while I am not trying to gloss over that fact, I want to tell you about something even more dangerous. Quite a few people stand by the road of life, and do what I call spiritual hitchhiking.
Let’s consider the first two groups of hitchhikers. There are those who have come to the Lord, but like those in the parable of the sower, they may drift away when life becomes complicated or tumultuous. The second group has never responded to the gospel message.
Many people in both groups live their lives governed by chance. Instead of consulting the master of the universe for guidance, they see God as an old man tugging on a snowy white beard, who is far removed from His creation. But if we contrast this image with the picture of God which the Bible presents, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, He is just the opposite–He wants to be intimately involved in the lives of His children.
So unlike physical hitchhiking, where we wait by the side of the road and passively hope that a random car will stop, the Bible makes it clear that God works from an individual plan which He has crafted for each one of us. He is calling us to actively become engaged in this design as we travel the road of life, and try to see things through His eyes.
Take the concept of service, for example. The world tells us, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” But by dissecting the words of Jesus, we see a very different attitude being displayed. He told us that if we want to save our lives–that is, getting ahead without putting God or our neighbor first–we’ll lose our lives one day. But if we do just the reverse by losing our lives for Him and for others, we will find them, both now and eternally.
Before going on, then, we must look at the third group, for it is all-inclusive. So let me tell you the rest of my story.
While I know that my act of physical hitchhiking was dangerous and foolish, I can still catch myself standing by the shoulder of the road with my thumb out. In other words, I can become passive to the things of God as I go through my day. If I am not careful, things like prayer and Bible study can become too mechanical, and I may lose out.
Just as the children of Israel hoarded the manna in the wilderness, I can hoard a purely intellectual knowledge of God’s Word. That is why instead of just studying for studying’s sake, I must learn to relish and enjoy the pages of scripture. If I do this, my passivity is replaced with joy, and I begin actively pursuing God. He, in turn, enriches my life.
We all have the same choice: will we stand by the side of the road, or will we let God guide us through the darkness of life? While you may not be physically blind, we are all blind to the things of God, and we often settle for second best. So why travel in coach, when you can enjoy first class?
Just as I stood on the side of the road that day, we are often determined to do things in our own strength. And just as I heard the trucker’s horn that day, the horns of the altar in the Bible speak of God’s strength and power. Learn to depend on Him more and more by making an altar in your heart through active pursuit of Him. Then you will find that He will be your strength and go before you in a new way.
Also, in the Old Testament, the horn was used to call God’s people. Jesus is calling all of us to a deeper life with Him, but He is also the door that we can only find as the horn of grace calls to us. So whether you are hearing His call for the first time or making a new commitment to follow Him more closely, why stand by the side of the road waiting for the world’s random blessings, when God’s eternal blessings are guaranteed?
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 6:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.