In my short time gardening, there’s much I have learned, and this year again taught me something new; this time through my failing. Granted, the failure of my garden bed is a little easier to swallow than what feels like failing in life, but sometimes what I refuse to hear and address in my life, God finds a way to speak through the ordinary, simple things I love. Jesus telling parables makes more sense when I hear how God speaks through my little garden.

In Matthew 13, Jesus shares a beautiful parable about a farmer who scatters seeds that fall on four different types of soil. It wasn’t until recently that I understood just how important soil can be for the life of those seeds and that's when I saw this parable come to life.

This spring, I planned more for my garden than I ever have before - mapping out my goals and the right time to plant each seed. I grew the first batch of seeds indoors to make sure I didn’t have a late spring freeze sneak up on me, but then we had a house-invader (mouse-invader) who thoroughly enjoyed them for a night snack (said mouse will soon enjoy mouse-heaven, if there is such a thing). Still determined to get ahead from previous years, I planted round two in little pots again, but put them outside this time, hoping the sun would help them grow faster to catch up with my plan. Sadly, most never sprung up. Now an entire month behind schedule, I planted round three straight into my raised bed. Those that had survived in round one were now small plants and on their way to prospering. But after a couple of weeks of sunshine and daily watering, round three of seeds never made an appearance. I am now nervously awaiting round four, but my doubts of their growth are much higher than my expectancy. The most aggravating thing of it all is the seeds that are not growing are the plants I succeeded at the last two years. 

As I took a deep sigh and decided whether I should just run over to Lowe's and buy the last of their pre-grown baby veggies to cut my losses before it’s too late, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart - whispering truths from my garden where I least expected it. 

“Often times you sow more seeds in your little garden than you do the dreams I’ve put in your heart.” 

All the questions without answers had left me in a sea of doubt and waiting on God to give me answers before I dared to dream again.  I’d stopped casting seed.

I sat back, letting it sink in. When was the last time I really dreamed? The last time I sowed seeds into those dreams? I knew He was right.  I’ve always been a dreamer and set courageous goals, but in recent years, it has gotten much harder. I’d quit seeing results like I hoped, and all of my planting, weeding and watering was similar to my 2nd, 3rd and 4th round of seeds - I saw nothing. I felt like I was doing everything right to make those dreams succeed, and the disappointment left me reeling. Maybe that wasn’t a God-dream. Maybe that was a selfish dream. Maybe I’m not ready to hold that dream. All the questions without answers had left me in a sea of doubt and waiting on God to give me answers before I dared to dream again.  I’d stopped casting seed.

So now what? Should I just go plant again and expect a different return? Was that what He was getting at? Before I could even answer my own questions, God spoke again. 

“What if you’re doing everything right, but the soil is wrong?”

I know just enough about gardening to know that different plants need different types of soil. Tomatoes, kale, broccoli and potatoes need more acidic soil. Lettuce, squash and cucumbers need more alkaline soil. Succulents need sandy soil and other household plants need more oxygenated soil. How had I not thought of this before? Every plant on my porch was thriving, just not those in the raised bed. It was becoming clear - either I needed to change the soil or I needed to change the seeds. I could plant more of the seeds that thrived in this soil, or I could set out to change the soil. 

I then stopped to consider what this could mean for me personally. Could there be a pH where my dream seeds thrive and flourish, but I just hadn’t found it yet? If I was testing the pH of my life’s soil, would it read acidic or alkaline? Is there negativity in my mind or in the people I give my time to, making it too acidic? Am I surrounded by dreamers or doubters? Is my life balanced with pace and rest or bogged down with busyness and comparison? I knew God was putting His finger on something and wanting to restore a balanced pH to my soil for more seeds to thrive. But how?

In Matthew 13:9, Jesus finishes His parable on seeds with this: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." He correlates the soil receiving seed to ears having the ability to hear. It’s the key to good fertile soil. Verse 11 goes on with, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him." Your rightful inheritance as a child of God is to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but here, it’s abundantly clear that if we don’t take the time to listen (tune the ears of our heart to God’s Word and voice), then even that - our understanding - will be taken from us. 

If you want to change the pH of the soil of your life - tend to your listening. Get away with God and listen to His voice. God has an appointed time and season for everything and maybe it's time to cast off doubt and disappointment from past seasons and sow seeds again. Or maybe you've been doing everything right, but He wants to show you how to cultivate the soil of your heart to hold those seeds. Let Him tell you what is needed. Silence all the other voices and lean into knowing the mysteries of His ways. I promise you He knows the right formula for cultivating good soil to make your dream seeds flourish. 

I’ll end with this sweet reminder of encouragement in Lamentations 3:21-24 (NLT):

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”


About Jenae Tankersley

Jenae is an Arkansas girl who has grown to love the big city of Dallas, Texas. She’s always looking for the next adventure and loves change more than comfort. As a writer and photographer, she aspires to capture what is often overlooked - to find beauty in every day life and put courage in every person she meets along the way. She lives amazed by Jesus and His abundant grace that makes her confident. She's a pastor at Gateway Church working with students and young adults. Running, traveling, gardening, and coffee are just a few of the things that feed her soul.