I have been reading through the Gospel of Mark in my early morning time with Jesus. It’s such a delight to read slowly, savoring the stories of our Savior.
In Mark 4:1-20 Jesus tells a story about a sower – a farmer who goes out and plants seeds. Some fell on the path and the birds swooped in and ate them. Some fell on the rocks and there wasn’t enough soil for them to take deep root. The seeds sprouted quickly but then died when the sun came out and scorched them because they had no roots. Other seeds fell among weeds and thorns. Those seeds never stood a chance because the weeds and thorns strangled them. A few seeds fell on rich, good soil and those seeds sprouted healthy plants – a good crop – and multiplied many times.
What’s the point of this parable?
Jesus told this parable to illustrate the sharing of the gospel message. However, tucked within the parable is the principle of sowing seeds.
It’s the principle that what you sow, you will reap (Galatians 6:7-8).
If you want to have deep friendships, you need to sow seeds of friendship.
At times, you’ll sow seeds of friendship only to have it not work out.
Other times, there won’t be a deep enough connection to sustain the growing friendship.
Occasionally, you’ll sow seeds of friendship and you’ll think the friendship is going to grow into something long-term. It goes great in the beginning, but, as the difficulties of life come, you drift apart and the friendship fades.
Thankfully, there will be times when your heart connects deeply with another. The soil in your heart and theirs is healthy enough to sustain a long-term, rich, life-giving friendship. This type of friendship is the most beautiful.
The thing is, in order to cultivate those life-giving friendships, you need to take the initiative to plant seeds and nurture the soil of your own heart so that when the right friend comes along, you’re ready. In thinking about all this, I want to give you three questions for personal reflection. My suggestion is that you take an hour or so and prayerfully reflect on these three questions.
Where are you sowing seeds of friendship? If you don’t take initiative, you won’t have friends. So think about the circles of community to which you belong. Are there people at church you can reach out to? Are their neighbors who need a friendly visit?
What is the condition of the soil of your heart so that you are a great friend to others? Is it rich with life-giving nutrients because you are spending time in God’s Word and in prayer daily? What unhealthy weeds do you need to uproot from your heart in order to be the friend you long for?
How are you cultivating the friendships you already have? At times, people feel lonely because life has become so busy for them that they don’t feel they have the time to invest in friendships. Maybe work has gotten in the way, or kids’ activities, or just general busyness. Here’s what I know: friendships won’t cultivate themselves. And no one lays on their death bed saying, “Oh I wish I had worked more hours.” Generally the regrets in life circle around the time we did not spend investing in our relationships.
Friend, with loneliness at epidemic proportions, we each need to take some time to consider how we are cultivating those deep connections with friends.
One great way to invest in your friends is to do a Girlfriend Gathering study together. These short studies are designed to be done over a weekend as a retreat or as a short 4-week Bible study. Rooted Joy is available now and Tethered Trust will come out in 2024.
This week on the Connected Mom Podcast we’re having a conversation about the challenges of being a single mom. We’re talking with author/speaker, Peggy Sue Wells. If you are a single mom or know one, this is a great conversation to recommend. You can listen on all the major podcast apps.