As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. – Matthew 13:4
In the mountains, we have an adage, “They are sowin’ their wild oats.” I find it humorous, folks who are not from the region automatically assume this means a man is being unfaithful to his wife, when in fact, that’s not the purpose behind the phrase at all. The meaning is simple. When you sow your wild oats, you set out on adventure, follow your dreams (whether of good intent or bad) – one seeks after the desires of their heart.
Most of the time we use this phrase when we’re referring to young people and the season of their life when the world offers them more than the confines of their current happiness. They long for more in their life and set out to seek it. They sow their oats.
There’s something to be said for the adventurous at heart. They gather the pieces of their life into a backpack and then set out, becoming a Johnny Appleseed of sorts. Tossing ambitions and hopes of what they thought would bring them joy along the pathway, never seeing any true result.
I find myself wandering from time to time, flinging pieces of my life hither and yon, dabbling here, participating there and finding little success with any of my attempts to plant new seed. Oh, I grow a few successes every now and again, but for the most part, I have to stop and hunt for the growth I thought I was tending. Some of the hopes I cast fall in fertile soil, while birds scoff others up immediately. I stick my hand into my bag of hopes and dreams and feel somewhat of a panic. Emptiness. I wonder what will I do now – there’s no more desire to plant. Then my fingers grasp hold of one or two seeds caught in the seam of my bag. Hope. I bring them out, scanning the area around me for a safe place to plant. If I’m not careful, these seed too, will be lost.
This time I sow my oats in the safety of the rich soil knowing that now, they’ll have the opportunity to sprout – to multiply. I’m sure the Father watches me. He must lift His hand and scratch Head, puzzled that I start out throwing seeds in the good soil then wander aimlessly away, wasting my resources. He cultivates what He can to offer me some joy, but then allows the birds to pick at what I’ve haphazardly thrown.
It’s taken me a great amount of time to figure the process out – sow my desires in the right spot. The hard part comes when I have to tend the soil. Sometimes I feel so weary from the work that I want to quit. Then suddenly, the Father taps me on the shoulder and says, “Look, over there. A sprout. This is a good seed. Tend it.” I smile. The work was worth the effort. The fruit will follow.
Prayer: God, when I wander, lead me back into Your loving arms.