Have you heard about the young man who nervously approached his girlfriend’s father to ask him an important question?

He said, “Sir, there is something very crucial I’d like to ask you … this is very difficult but I was wondering if … I mean I was hoping … er, oh … that is, I was wishing that you would be willing to …

Suddenly, in the midst of his fumbling for the right words, the girl’s father grabbed the young man’s hand and shook it vigorously saying, “Of course, my son, of course. Certainly. I’ll give you my permission and my blessing. My little girl’s happiness is all that matters to me!”

The young man looked startled.

“Permission? Blessing?” he asked.

“Well, it’s obvious that you want to marry my daughter and you have my permission and blessing,” the father replied.

“Oh, no sir, that’s not it at all,” said the young man, “nothing like that. You see, a payment is due on my car and I’m $68 short … and I was just wondering if you could help me out. Could I borrow $68 until next week?”

The father replied quickly, “Absolutely not! I hardly know you!”

They obviously need to talk more often. Isn’t that one of the biggest problems in our world today — lack of communication? The process of communication involves both speaking and listening. Many of our spiritual problems come from not listening to God. Lot of people pray to God and talk to God but not as many people really listen.

Jesus knew about the importance of listening. He said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

One of Jesus’ most powerful parables is about listening. In the fourth chapter of Mark we find the parable of The Sower. It’s about hearing God’s word and responding to it properly.

A man sowing grain in his field found the seed fell on different kinds of soil. Some seed fell on the hard path and didn’t grow. Some fell on rocky soil that was too shallow. Other seeds fell among the thorns and got choked out. Still other seed fell on good soil and there the seed grew and yielded a great harvest.

The four different kinds of soil represent the four different ways people hear and respond to the seed of God’s word. Four different responses to the Gospel and four different kinds of listeners.

The soil on the path was hard as concrete. There are people who are hard, cynical, callused, self-centered. They won’t listen, they won’t hear.

The soil in the rocky ground is shallow. This is like people who are shallow. They get fired up, but it doesn’t last. They have no staying power.

The thorny soil is about people who give all their energy to the thorns instead of the seed.

Finally, there are those special people who receive God’s word and work with it to bring new life everywhere. They really listen to God’s words.

Prayer: Our Lord, make the soil of our hearts a fit place to receive your words. We need your strong and beautiful words to bless our lives. Amen.

The Rev. Dan Safarik retired as a full-time pastor at St. Luke Methodist Church in Lincoln and now serves part time at St. Mark’s UMC in Lincoln. Email him at debsafarik@gmail.com.

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The Rev. Dan Safarik serves St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lincoln. Email him at debsafarik@gmail.com

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