In the parable of the seed thrower, Jesus speaks about the farmer scattering seeds on “good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:8). The ground that did not produce a yield could not sustain a root system that developed into a harvest. I cannot have a yield without having healthy or deep roots. I cannot have a yield (production, output, harvest) unless my soil is yielded (given way, open, surrendered) to the seeds. Jesus’ story asks me to ask questions about my soil, that is, my heart.
Jesus told the disciples that he spoke in parables (metaphors and symbols), because he longed for the listener to “understand with their hearts and turn, and (he) would heal them.” He longs for us to look harder within, so to speak, to see and hear deeper than the world’s teachings and our own “best figuring.” He desires for us to go deeper than life as a puzzle or a game we figure out, because it can block the vulnerability of wonder, trust, vulnerability, and need.
Jesus asks us to return to wonder, like when we were children. True wonder takes us to places where we are made smaller than our power to control. It also can strike us with amazement; we are left with nothing but feeling and need, desire, longing, and hope. The parable confronts the defenses I build over the ground of my heart, and its “predesign”—to feel, need, desire, long, and hope.
The parable of the seed thrower calls me to see and hear through my own sensitivity, neediness, dreams, longings, or the confessions of my own human being experience. Move from my fact-finding, figuring, and justifications into the territory of feeling and vulnerability of desire and need—or yield.
In other words, and this is the point, the paradox of the word yield. It has a double meaning. We have to yield to have a yield. It means surrender, and it means harvest. I need to open up the truths of my heart—the feelings, needs, desire, longings, and hope of my heart to the touch of God. This surrender, this yielding, leaves me vulnerable to pain. And, more so, Jesus implies that it leaves me vulnerable to healing, strength, and great growth, in that order. The yielding will offer a yield of what Jesus calls “a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sowed.”
By giving our hearts to God in daily surrender, we are given the sustenance to grow deeper. We grow stronger roots within that allows the development of love (fruit). I am saying that when we open the heart to God, he takes the yield to grow us and create a yield through our yielding. That the process is real, alive, true, good, dangerous, scary, lovely, painful, slow at times, sometimes fast, and always exposed to the elements of life is the witness to the experience. No wonder we tend to defend. No wonder that only those of us who cannot “take it” anymore reach out for the healing beyond our willful endurance and figuring. Totally understandable.
Nevertheless, Jesus calls us to return to how we are created behind our defenses, and risk exposing our hearts to the life we were created to have. He knows we are not created to survive behind walls and miss the harvest of living. He knows how we operate. He calls us to move from how we operate, and return to how we are created.
If we yield (become vulnerable to our neediness and surrender to how we are created and need, (i.e. soil turned up to receive seeds) we will produce a yield (love and courage that has deep roots in empathy, giving, conscience, productivity, creativity). Just like the great eagle starts as a baby bird, crying out for food, we are to daily reach out in surrender to receive that which we need, so that we can receive and offer the yield of flight.
We are not created to peck along the ground for kernels of corn and gravel like chickens. We are made for the flight of the eagle. Every day, I believe it; and every day, I doubt it. Therefore, every day I surrender in hope that the yield will produce the yield.