Waste! How we hate the word and the action. We work hard for what we have and we don’t like to waste it. So, we tell our children to eat what’s on their plate and not waste food; or we tell the wife to turn off the light when she leaves the room; or we hate the waste that is the hallmark of our local, state, and federal government. Most of all, it saddens us when it seems that someone has wasted the life given to them. We are haunted at times by the thought that maybe, in some way, we have wasted our life.
Now, I am not encouraging waste, but I want to share a simple, but profound insight with you: God is a wasteful God. This seems to be a terrible thing to say about God, but we find this truth portrayed in the parable of the sower which is found in St. Luke, chapter 5. Jesus explains the parable to his disciples. A farmer goes out to sow seed. Some falls by the wayside and is trampled down, some falls on rocky ground and dies for there isn’t any moisture, some falls among thorns and is choked out, and some falls on good ground and takes root and grows to be fruitful.
The seed is the Word of God. The seed that falls by the wayside are people who hear the word, but like birds coming in and eating seed, Satan takes the seed away. The seed that falls on rocky ground are people who hear the word and even rejoice in it, but it doesn’t take root. When the heat of temptation comes, they wither and die. The seed that falls into the thorns are people who allow the cares, pleasures and temptations of life choke out the fruitfulness of the word. Finally, there is good ground and the seed is able to take root, grow and become fruitful. Jesus explains that the good ground are those who have an honest and good heart and bring forth the fruit of their faith with patience.
So, how is God wasteful? Well, think of this fact: there are four pieces of land, but only one plot is productive. That means that God wasted three-fourths of his seed. Three-fourths! What a wasteful God! Yet, the Father continues to throw out the seed despite the fact that three-fourths of it will not produce. This shows the absolute abundance of God’s grace to us.
To be honest, sometimes my heart is not receptive to the seed. Sometimes, I let the cares of life take away what was given to me. Sometimes, I’m just plain hard-hearted. Occasionally, my heart is soft and receptive and I prosper. Thank God His love is unfailing and it does not depend on me. Whatever my situation, the wasteful God continues to sow his seed on me. I thank God that in his love for me, he never gives up no matter how much I waste.
I have heard confessions for 25 years. People come with all kinds of spiritual, physical and emotional situations and states. Often, because of habitual sin, folks are depressed or worried that their lack of progress has made God turn against them, or they are just completely unworthy. What can I say or what advice can I offer. There is a theme that I work around all the time: trust in God’s grace. The Sower always goes out to sow.
The Saints convey this message all the time. The spiritual fathers counsel this all the time. They tell us to never despair and never give up, no matter what we say or do, or fail to do. They had a sense of the depth and scope of the grace of God and they bet their life on it.
The fact that the sower never gives up is no reason to get lazy. As the Lord pointed out in many parables, we are to account for what is given to us. Let’s work hard to make the ground of our hearts soft, and tend the plants of grace with patience. After a while, the harvest will be great.
Maybe we should take the hint and become like God -wasteful in the love we show to our spouses, to our children, to our neighbors, to our brothers and sisters in the Faith, and to the world. Over the years, I’ve heard many spouses complain about their mate. Yes, there came a time when it seems that the other has little seed to share. Yet, the thought in my heart is that if you become a sower and shower your mate with love, there will be a return, a harvest, even if its only a quarter of what you gave. Well, a quarter is better than none.
Never believe that our sins are greater than God’s grace, and so He no longer sows his Word in us. No, the Sower goes out to sow even if our soul is hard scrabble ground. Remember and cherish this word: God is wasteful!