I was attending a celebration for a friend when a somewhat shy, sweet young woman made her way across the room to greet me. Accompanied by her mother, she asked me about my career and my recent career transition. I told her it was not only a leap of faith, but a step of faith. I had to believe that no matter where I would eventually place my feet, God was there waiting, providing “good ground” to stand upon. She smiled and admitted that approaching me—a complete stranger—was a bit intimidating, but a gentle nudge from her mother had given her the courage.
“Ahh! That’s good!” I replied, making the connection between fear and faith. “Always, always obey that prompting, those nudges we get from others, that feeling in your spirit. Obey it! Stepping out on faith means to know you’re stepping onto good ground—no matter what it looks like. God will give you good ground to place your feet.”
When we think of “good ground,” typically we think of the Parable of the Sower (or the Soils) as Jesus told it to the large crowd gathered around him at a lake (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8). Simply put, the lesson is where the sower plants his seed depends on whether that seed bears fruit. Jesus later explains that the seed is the Word, the gospel, while the soil is the individual man or woman and their willingness to grow in faith. He’s speaking to a community of farmers at the time, but the message still rings true today.
The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted! (Matthew 13:23)
The good ground I was encouraging the young woman to recognize whenever she felt afraid, shy or intimidated is in fact, her. The good ground is you and me—it’s all of us or at least it has the potential to be. But, any farmer or gardener will tell you the ground has to be prepared first to yield a crop. Good ground is what we build with hands that pray, lips that speak life and deeds that do good. God wants us to stand on good ground, upon our volition, determination, discipline, unshakeable faith. He wants us to stand boldly upon His promises, His direction, and our capacity to do good in the world. He provides the seed but it’s up to us to make the most of it.
But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.7 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it. (Matthew 13: 16-17)
Decades ago, I was just like that young woman who made her way across the room. I was shy (still am in some ways) with lukewarm self-esteem. But, a few gray hairs and life experience has prepped my soil and made me brave. I’ll step out on water, in the dark, and even on ice because I know where those green garden boots in this week’s cover photo stand. Good ground is watered by both tears of sorrow and joy, fertilized by ferocious faith, and prepared by prayer –awesome morning prayer! You start to realize that all you’ve been through is training ground for where God is taking you. Even when you’re falling and failing, there’s always something to break the fall, to right the wrong. That good ground is you, if you make it so. When life’s earthquakes and floods come, where will you stand? Prayerfully, on good ground.