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Monday, 18 March 2019 12:56

Matthew 13: The Parable of the Sowers, Advice for LDS Midsingles

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As part of this year's emphasis on personal and family home study of the Savior's life, this week's lesson stems from Matthew 13 as outlined in the Come, Follow Me manual published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

While reading this morning about the Parable of the Sower, I was taken back by the insights that came into my mind relating to this parable and the powerful demographic within The Church referred to as "Midsingles." While we midsingles may joke among ourselves that we are the "misfits", "cast off toys" or even "Rejects", all of which are 100% untrue, what IS true is that while single, Latter-day Midsingles carry tremendous potential for good. The amount of service provided by this group around the world is astounding, as are the depths of the lessons and testimonies shared on Sundays and in private conversation as midsingles seek to "(go) about doing good" as disciples of Jesus Christ. They are faithful friends, devoted mothers and fathers, hard workers, and at the end of the day, dedicated members of the Lord's restored church, even if plenty of midsingles battle weaknesses, fears, insecurities and yes, gasp, even sin.

That is why when I was reading in Matthew 13 today and the thoughts started pouring in about how it relates to dating in today's crazy world, I wanted to jot down the things I learned. While I always recommend grabbing your scriptures to mark down anything that stands out as you read on, more important is to mark down the thoughts that come to you from the Spirit in the process. 

I'm hoping the graph below will help me share the impressions that I felt and will be easy to follow along:




 Matthew 13:3

 "Behold, a sower went forth to sow;"

Jesus Christ is often referred to as "The Gardner". One needs only read the lengthy, but extremely instructive Allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5 to see that Jehovah/Jesus is very comfortable with being seen as a gardener/farmer/sower. He is, after all, the creator of this world and everything that grows in it. 

One thought on this verse relating to Midsingles is that the Lord is always "going forth to sow" the way before us and is intimately interested in the details of our lives. He knows our past, present and future and knows what what we are dealing with now as well as what blessings, trials and miracles await us down the road once the "seed" or "growing plant" of our life has increased/progressed. So if you are feeling discouraged, lost or even afraid, trust The Gardener.

And if you ever feel that he has forgotten you or placed you in a "poor spot of ground" in your current circumstances, remember Jacob 5:22 which reads, "Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit." The Lord can make good fruit grow from whatever "ground" you find yourself in right now, if you will allow him to do so.

 Matthew 13:4 
"...some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls...devoured them up:'

Many Latter-day Saint Midsingles are returned missionaries, have been endowed/were sealed in the temple, have served in countless callings/leadership positions, have or at one time had firm testimonies, etc. They were "good seeds" with Celestial potential, but for one reason or another have fallen by the wayside and the sins or cares or fears or "mists of darkness" of this world have "devoured them up" until they have become spiritually rotten or dead inside. 

Let's be honest, there are plenty of "fowls" out there who are just watching for someone else to stumble. These fowls swoop in with harsh words, slick promises, confusing logic and an infinite number of tactics devised to lead astray. If we find ourselves "by the wayside", may we cry out to The Gardner for relief, rescue and redemption. And if we know of someone in this situation, may we love them as the Lord does, no matter what. 

 Matthew 13:5-6 
"Some fell in stony places... and forwith they sprung up... And when the sun was up, they were scorched... they withered away."

When I first read this verse this morning, I immediately thought, "Dating!" How often do two good people meet, only to find that their potential "(falls) in stony places" due to their own fears, heartaches, insecurities, "favorite sins", impossible-for-a-human-to-achieve demands, etc.? 

Or, forgive the negative train this will take, but what about the "relationships" that are purely based on the physical or the money or the desire to not be alone? Those seem to fit quite nicely into the "not much earth" and "because they had no root, they (will wither) away" category.

Please don't assume I'm criticizing anyone's choices, especially when it comes to the infinitely-complex world of dating. But perhaps one lesson we can learn from this is to be careful about our dating choices. "Well, duh" everyone just said out loud. I know, I know. What I'm saying is, maybe we ask ourselves what is holding US back when it comes to relationships. It is really easy to say "There's no good men/women out there or where I live", but what if there are and our behaviors, habits, thought-patterns, beliefs, demands, etc. are the things keeping them from coming our way?  

What if our hearts are the "stony places" that the seeds of love fall into every time we go to church and a good friend who we could have potential with gets a free ticket to the Friend Zone simply because of our pride, fear, or simply because we date from the world's perspective and not the Lord's? I think a lot of Midsingles need to take a hard look in the mirror to see if there is anything in their lives, minds, hearts, on their "Must Have" dating checklist, etc. that is holding them back. I realize that is uncomfortable and in writing it I feel a bit like Jacob speaking at the temple (Jacob 2) because I know how many hearts are so sensitive to the heartaches and loneliness involved with dating. If you'd like more of my thoughts on this, please read my posts here, here and here.     

 Matthew 13:7

 "...some fell among thorns..."

While I was tempted to relate this also to dating/relationships that are "choked" by all the things mentioned above, I felt in a moment of deep introspection that this verse could easily be applied to our testimonies. Again, many Midsingles have grown up in the church, have served missions, have served faithfully in numerous callings and taught their children the Gospel.

And yet, somewhere along the way the thorns of temptation, addiction, dissatisfaction, disaffection, pride, apathy, pride, etc. came in and their testimonies, their faith, their closeness to the Spirit, even their relationship to the Lord were all choked and the individual found themselves feeling spiritually dark, full of confusion or sometimes even anger towards the church. They may go inactive or even fight against the Lord and his work.

The antidote to such a course, or outcome, would be to nourish the "seed" of our faith and testimony as we would a growing plant whose "fruit" our lives depended on, because it eternally does. The simple things like scripture study, Sabbath worship, service to our fellowman, prayer, obedience, rejecting temptation and the slippery ways of this world, all the "principles and ordinances of the Gospel" add strength to our souls. We choose what thorns we let into our hearts and lives and if our own internal garden is feeling a bit "overgrown", maybe we need to repent and do some Spiritual Spring Cleaning.  

 Matthew: 13:8 
"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth much fruit..."

It is tempting to blame the circumstances of our hearts/minds/spirits on the circumstances of our lives. The truth is that we fought a war in Heaven before we came to this earth so that no outside force could force us to act or feel a certain way. Yes, outside circumstances or the words of others can hurt us, but only if we let them. I'm not saying we are weak when we struggle or feel painful feelings. What I am saying is that even when someone offends us, we are still choosing to be offended.

When we are feeling lonely or afraid or discouraged or angry, we are choosing those emotions, for whatever reason. We can complain or we can be grateful. We can choose love or we can choose jealousy. We can compliment or we can judge. We can be open or we can remain closed off. 

The seeds of life, love, happiness, growth, faith, peace, etc., those seeds are all around us because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and his Gospel and our power to choose. But we have to choose to make our lives/hearts/minds/spirits/even relationships "good ground" for those seeds to fall into. We can make our circumstances in life bitter ground, or we can make it good ground. The power we have to "do much good" in our lives and in the lives of those around us is limitless. 

If we choose to stay close to the Living Water, the True Vine, the Light of This World, and plant our feet firmly in Gospel soil, all four things necessary for plants to grow, then we will grow into a productive life full of joys, peace, fulfillment, happiness and spiritual strength. Will we still face trials and setbacks? Yes, but we will do so with The Gardner by our side who will prune away our dead leaves and nourish us by his power to turn us into a literal Tree of Life like Lehi envisioned and bring us back to Heavenly Father's kingdom when this life is over. Like Joseph in Egypt, the Lord can always make us "fruitful in the land of (our) affliction."

Jeremy C. Holm

Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.

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