Been there, done that - July 16, 2017
Been there, done that was an Australian expression that started in the early 1980s. By the early 1990s it had evolved to include a reference to the souvenir habits of the widely travelled: Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Of course there are some who are convinced you can never go far enough and in the 21st century you can still occasionally hear: Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, worn a hole in it and now use it as a duster. The meaning though has not changed. There are some things that we consign to the dustbin of memory or experience. Because they belong to a distant past, or because their very familiarity causes us to ignore them.
There is a danger that we can do that with Jesus’ parables. When I hear the Parable of the Sower I switch off, because I have been there…. But today I noticed something I had not spotted before: the little intro that says Jesus left his house and sat down by the sea. He moves from the place where people feel safe and in control (most of the time) to the place where people are insecure and at the mercy of the elements. Then he tells that familiar Parable, which just to be suitably irrelevant, appears to have nothing to do with either home or sea.
And by the time Jesus has even got into the first sentence we have probably switched off. But do make the effort to challenge that impulse. I think he is challenging us to trust God like we have never trusted him before. The sower may feel in control or he may feel at the mercy of the elements too. He faces one set back after another, frustration, loss, disappointment. [Been there, done that, couldn’t even be bothered with the t-shirt]. But his efforts are not wasted, and a harvest is forthcoming.
Perhaps we should read our Bibles not just in church or anywhere else we feel at home, but in some less likely places. We may find ourselves listening differently.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘ A farmer went out to sow his seed.
Lord, I expect you just wanted a bit of peace and quiet, a bit of time to yourself. It didn’t quite work out like that did it? Were you thinking through how much you could trust the Father? And it all came out in that parable, with you challenging people to trust him, too, even when things weren't working out as smoothly as they hoped. Help me to develop that kind of trust, too. Amen.