In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23) seeds fall in different places. Some are eaten immediately by birds. Some fall in stony places with little soil, where the sprouts cannot endure the heat of the day. Some sprout among thorns and are overwhelmed. Some fall in good soil and bring forth abundant fruit.
These outcomes represent common responses to hearing God’s word. Respectively, some people reject it; some receive it joyfully but cannot endure persecution; some hear it but are diverted by riches and the world’s cares; and some accept and understand it and bring forth fruit.
If we take this valuable parable too far, we might forget that ours is a God of Second Chances.
Having spent my youth on farms, growing grain, alfalfa, potatoes, and cattle – while tending a half-acre vegetable garden at home – I am cannot see the end of this parable as the end of the story.
Consider what the farmer and gardener do. If the soil is weak and shallow, they build it up – with organic matter and sometimes by bringing in more soil. If the soil is rocky, they remove the rocks. If birds steal the seed, they find ways to repel the birds. If weeds intrude, they spray or pull them, so the crop is not choked.
Our Sower returns to plant again and again, working faithfully to improve the soil – harrowing up our souls, when necessary (2 Nephi 9:47; Alma 14:6; 36:12; 39:7) – until he has done everything a God can do to save his children (see Moroni 7:36).