“….Behold, the sower went forth to sow . And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty,” (Matthew 13:3-8).
This is a fascinating, multidimensional parable. Most of the time we interpret it by focusing only on the soil. Each one of us who has studied the parable has shuddered at the likelihood of being identified with wayside soil, rocky soil or thorny ground. Because we desire to be the good soil, we find ourselves almost always compelled to conduct a deep self-introspection, and an evaluation of our own spiritual standing. We make an effort to identify strongholds in our lives that defy spiritual regeneration; areas that need to be surrendered to God so that we can walk in victory and worthy of our calling, which is a commendable undertaking indeed. We do not want to be the type of soil that is not productive nor do we want to belong to churches that are inefficient or those that misuse or waste the resources dedicated to the Lord. This mindset has engrossed the church so much that it has become a guide in planning evangelistic efforts. When planning evangelistic meetings, budgets are carefully planned to avoid “wayside, stony, and thorny ground” wastage. The focus is usually on potentially “good soil” as the target population group for our efforts so that we can end up with a 30-fold, 60-fold or 100-fold harvest. The more, the better—it is a game of statistics!!! We send individuals ahead to till the ground to ensure that it is receptive to the seed because we must be smarter than that “reckless” sower of antiquity. Sometimes special marketing strategies are designed and implemented to maximize the harvest from the church’s financial investment. No wonder we end up with homogeneous churches-cocoons that shut-out “publicans.”
But what if we attempted to look at this parable from another dimension? What if we focused on the nature of the sower Himself? This seemingly wasteful sower seems to have no concept of the cost of His seed in the light of global economic down-turns. He insists on being appallingly extravagant! As a matter of fact, extravagance is His nature. He tends to always give exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think. Look at how lavishly He has arrayed the universe with billions of galaxies and astonishingly glorious nebulae. One only has to look into the telescope to behold astounding formations of constellations hanging against the vast darkness of space. Then there is that gem of our universe, the blue planet swarming with an unparalleled ecosystem. This is also home to creatures bearing His image, to whom He gave His Son. Talk about epic giving!
This is the Sower who goes out to sow His seed in myriad of soil types. Not skipping over the dry, unpromising soil, He casts His seed on the wayside and bicycle lanes, and asphalt pavement with a constant flow of incessant traffic. Pedestrians jostle for space, dodging each other in the hectic traffic, oblivious of the seed they are crushing underfoot. The traffic is so dense that the “senseless” efforts of the Sower become an irritating distraction and, consequently, a target of disparagement and crass jokes. But the Sower keeps on sowing His seed unmindful of the profanities directed at Him. Some seed falls on hungry winos sprawled in the gutters of the back alleys of the city center. Curiously, they pick up the seed, examine it, toss it in the mouth and down it with the dregs of their stale beer. Some of the seed falls on the soil littered with rotting trash on the edges of the gutters. It quickly germinates and blossoms into stunningly beautiful flowers. Enthusiastically, the Sower continues to sow His seed. Some of it falls in church parking lots and the deacons quickly sweep it away in an attempt to keep the grounds immaculate for parishioners. On and on the sower goes…to those steeped into superstition and witchcraft. Some of them pick the seed up. Supposing it to be a magical remedy for their ailments, they eat it up. The Sower proceeds to institutions of higher learning, scattering His seed in lecture halls amid scorn and hysterical ridicule. Tirelessly, he marches casting His seed in fields in the community valley where the seed sprouts and brings forth a rich harvest. He keeps on sowing joyfully and lavishly until the end of the planting season.
The etiology of disease can be exacerbated and sustained by certain environmental variables. The interaction between human beings and their environment is an integral part of health and well-being. The aspect of public health that is connected with environmental health focuses on the assessment and understanding of the impact of the environment on the well-being of human beings as well as the impact of the actions of human beings on the environment. Environmentalists have divided the environment into two: the environment within the body and the one found outside the body (ambient). One of the threats to health which occurs in the ambient environment is noise.
Noise invades our lives in various forms such as the rumble of an approaching train, the thrum of heavy traffic, the roar of airplanes or even the hum of street sweep as well as neighbors yelling at ornery children and spouses. Usually we are subjected to an occasional scream of a malfunctioning car alarm or the wail of an ambulance on its way to a life-saving assignment. As such, most of our exposure to noise is beyond our control (although there are times when we can initiate it ourselves). For instance, noise can emanate from a neighbor’s lawn mower, house alarm, snow blower, parties, weddings, loud speakers and many others. In our homes, we are exposed to noise from the television, radio, telephone, stereos and many other devices, according to Goines & Hagler (2007). Noise pollution is likely to continue growing in magnitude as well as in severity because of increase in urbanization, population growth, highway, rail and sustained air traffic expansion. Further, there seems to be an emerging new culture with an uncanny or mysterious tolerance for noise, which seems to imply that in order to be heard, it is cool to be loud. The amplified car stereo industry and the modified muffler industry constitute the top two chief noise-making culprits of modern times. Private cars that have amplified stereo systems emit about 120 decibels of sound, which is equivalent to sandblasting. Under normal circumstances levels of noise should not exceed 80 decibels. Regardless of how noise penetrates our lives, it can have adverse effects to our health. Increased noise levels can be pathogenic. For example, noise has causal effects for cardiovascular disease, which can rob individuals of years of a healthy life. The World Health Organization claims that exposure to excessive and incessant traffic noise was implicated in the deaths of about 3 percent of people in Europe who had ischemic heart disease. The noise threshold associated with cardiovascular disorders was identified to be exposure to at least 50 A-weighted decibels. Although daytime exposure to noise was also associated with heart problems, the risk was greater for night time exposure. Reports from the National Center for Health Statistics’ Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate that over 5 million Americans aged 6-19 suffer from some form of impaired hearing resulting from exposure to noise. Further, about 30 million people in the United States are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at their places of work.
Susan Muto aptly observes that “In a noise polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think let alone try to be still and know God.” But we must pursue silence, sometimes, and make it our friend so that it can serve as fertile ground for finding intimacy with our God. The Bible says “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10). Learn more about this from: http://youtu.be/9TOcHIb8N5k