I may as well plant in concrete!

MR Photography

MR Photography

The chance of soft soil in Northern Idaho is about as possible as the Sahara having Noah sized rainfall.

Amber and I had only been married a few years when we decided to dress up the backyard of our new home. So, I ran out and bought several rosebushes, because that’s what young husbands do, pretending the whole time like I was some master gardener. Grabbing my shovel and the bag of planting soil, I marched off to do my husbandly duties. I marked off a few spots that I thought looked good along our fence line and got after it.

Clunk! The first plunge of the shovel found a rock, a boulder really. Poking my shovel around trying to find the edge, I began to pry it out of the earth. Several minutes and a few smaller rocks later, the hole was dug, and rosebush #1 was in. Standing back with a slight smile of pride, I attacked planting #2 with a higher dose of confidence. Heck, I now had planting one whole rosebush in my gardening résumé. The second was a piece of cake. Five minutes, done.

Rosebush #3 is what led me into a classroom that I had no idea I was in. I plunged the shovel into the earth only to be met with a tooth rattling clunk. This stone had a different feel. Irritated, I began searching for the edge of this stone, intending to yard it out like a dentist would a bad tooth. The minutes rolled by, and about a gallon of sweat poured down my face as I continued to pry, dig and search for the end of this stupid rock. Then, I remembered I had a 5-foot long pry bar in my garage. Tossing the shovel, I trudged off for heavier equipment. Returning to the hole, I dove the pry bar in where I knew I had an edge. With all my strength and body weight, I gave the bar a grunting heave. To my shock, rosebush #2 jumped. I could not believe my eyes! This boulder in #3’s spot was at least 6 feet long, and there was no way in our Lord’s creation I was removing this stone without something that ran on diesel fuel.

My heart sank, and immediately I began doing what any normal husband would do. I started justifying that the bushes would be ok. I mean, c’mon, there is dirt between the stone and the root base. How much good soil does the bush need between the root system and my personal Gibraltar? One to two inches should be plenty. The rose bush will be ok. It will just work it roots around the rocky soil, right? I just have to get this done. So, I dug out what rocky soil I could for the third plant. Then, I shoved it in with some handfuls of good planting soil and patted the ground with a reassuring slap. It seemed as if I was trying to convince the rosebush that I was not a complete idiot and planting it off to its eventual death.

Things seemed ok as weeks went on. Everyday I would check, feeling good that life was moving right along, and I had avoided my first gardening catastrophe. Then, the Northern Idaho July sun showed up. No matter how much I soaked those rosebushes with water or begged the things to grow, nothing would help them survive back-to-back 100-degree days. The truth was now known. I had planted among the rocky soil.

The rosebushes died, and to this day, that painful lesson continues to remind me to examine my own spiritual soil. Just as Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! (Matthew 13: 3-8)

God’s truth will not grow or take root if we do not remove the rocks in our lives. So, is your soil rocky with shallow roots, choked out by thorns, or fertile and productive?


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