I think that perhaps I’m a little on the dense side. Sometimes, well actually often, it can take a long time before something totally sinks into my mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s little things or big things. Such as the other night, as my husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table with his son Jake and daughter-in-law Brenna, I asked a simple question: “What day is Christmas on this year?” Well, the conversation experienced a sort of a lull in it, and then the answer came: “Monday, it’s on Monday.” And then my sweet husband, reminded me that I had asked the same question to the same people just the night before! Epic failure. I’d asked, and promptly forgot that I’d asked that question. Then to further compound the issue, and solidify my title of “the woman who is not exceptionally bright,” I followed up with an equally dumb question of “Do you think that the local church will have services on Christmas Eve?” My daughter-in-law must have been stunned, but she managed to answer with an affirmative yes, she was sure that there would be services on Christmas Eve. Duh! Christmas Eve is a Sunday, of course they’ll have services! I was even more stunned at the utter dumbness of this follow-up question. So much so, that I don’t think that I attempted to clarify that what I was looking for was a midnight service, maybe something similar to ones I attended in the past. You can now picture me with a face palm, not unlike Captain Picard of Star Trek, The Next Generation. Ok, so I’m not a little on the dense side, I’m a lot on the dense side. There, I’ve said it.
So many times, I need things spelled out for me, so that I can get it set in my mind. And sometimes more than once. I tend to see or take things at face value, and don’t always notice any underlying motivations or secret agendas. It’s not that I’m gullible though. I just am not always able to dig deeper into everything I hear or see. As I’ve aged I have gotten better at looking at underlying factors, but I don’t often reach into the deep philosophical realms that others seem to reach so easily.
Take Jesus’s parables for instance. I take them pretty much at face value. I think that I get the gist of what Jesus is trying to convey in most of these stories. And, when Jesus actually explains a parable that He’s spoken, well then that’s golden for me. However, there are those in the faith who also seem to be philosophers, they reach into a parable, and pull out more, so much more. Even the parables that Jesus explains. Years upon years ago, I sat in an Adult Sunday School class where the attendees discussed a parable that Jesus takes the time to explain in the New Testament book of Mark:
3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.
6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.
7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:3-9, ESV)
13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
14 The sower sows the word.
15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.
16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.
17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word,
19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:13-20, ESV)
My take on the parable: Pay attention, be diligent, build a relationship with God, delve into His Word, dwell upon His Word, and you’ll be able to produce a fruitful harvest. Dwelling with God, walking with God, communicating with God, practicing His presence will yield much for myself and in winning others to His kingdom. I figured that I had this parable down pat, after all Jesus explained it to us didn’t He? But then came that Sunday School discussion. Much of what I remember of that discussion centers around verse 4: And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. (Mark 4:4) Comments from others astounded me. I remember someone saying something to the effect, “Perhaps the seed that is devoured by the birds, is actually what it was intended to do – to pass through to be deposited somewhere else and grow into something fruitful?” My mind screamed, What? How did they ever come up with that idea? This logic confused me, and a lengthy conversation followed in that class. As a side note, follow up research that I conducted says that seeds that pass through a bird’s system and subsequently deposited across the landscape are successful at survival and may be less prone to predators. Well who would have thought that? Certainly not I.
Now, there were times in my life that I longed to be a great intellect, maybe even a great philosopher. However, as I’ve aged, I learned so much. I know that I am not nor will I ever be a great intellect, and I’m okay with that. I’ve come to appreciate that God made me who I am, He gave me this intellect (or lack thereof). He has a use for me just the way that I am. Sometimes I will grasp difficult concepts, sometimes I won’t. God will give me the insight that I need, when I need it. And, I will learn whatever it is that God wants me to learn.
As for the parable, I’m fine with sticking with Jesus’ interpretation, after all, it’s His parable.
Now, what day of the week is Christmas on this year?