“The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.” ~Matthew 13:20-21 (MSG)

The parable of the sower–which some say should be the parable of the soils–has taken on new meaning for me, as scripture is wont to do over time. We read the same passages at different points in our life or in our growth as Christians. From them we glean new understandings and deeper insights.

It’s a living Bible, after all.

So this second soil, the gravel, reminds me of my early days being a Christian. I was old in body but young in spirit, and I would get “swept up” in the passion of it all. A great worship song, a dazzling sermon, a soulful interaction with other believers: those became the essence of my experience.

And, like a junkie, looking for the next good high, I sought out those elated moments as testimony to the Gospel.

But they weren’t. They were joyous moments, no doubt, but they weren’t the essence of what God can bring to our lives.

And, so many Christians put their faith in the feeling rather than the One. That’s why people keep church shopping and worship hopping, from one thing to the next: pod casts are the way to go one week, and Wednesday night worship music the next.

I’m not talking about finding the right church, or leaving one church for the next, because that can happen. And, I’m not talking about varied worship experiences, because that’s terrific stuff.

I’m talking about people who seek the feeling and who never find satisfaction because they chase an emotion. They fail to seek a relationship with God because God doesn’t get them “high” every time they walk into a building, have a conversation, or access an app.

And, that’s how it is with the gravel soil. The seed sprouts right up, bright and brilliant green, dancing in the light, until the scorching heat of the day burns it dead.

Life is hard. People are sinners. The walk with Jesus isn’t a halcyon trek.

Matthew Henry writes: “That which distinguished this good ground from the rest, was, in one word, fruitfulness. He does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but there were none that prevailed to hinder its fruitfulness.” 

Oh, and I only got the Matthew Henry quote because I was following an online study on bible.com, not because I’m some scholar. I’m pretty much an average person, getting info from here or there. There are no great tomes of religious leaders in my library, just mostly some proletarian adventure books and funky memoirs about idiosyncratic lives.

As long as our goal is to keep going back to scripture, to keep furthering our walk with God, to keep our minds open and learning, we can create the soil that produces fruit.