Have you ever looked closely at a wild oat? I remember as a kid my dad showing us a wild oat seed in the palm of his hand. A wild oat is longer and much more slender than its domesticated counterpart. It’s most distinguishing feature is a long, stout and slightly bent bristle, called an awn, that grows out of the head of the seed and sweeps back along its side extending more than twice the seeds length out behind it.
Dad spit on the seed in his hand and, to my astonishment, the seed began to slowly rotate. Apparently when the awn gets wet, the bend in it begins to straighten causing it to twist and thrust the seed forward. When the awn dries the bend constricts again to its original shape while tiny hairs along the seed act like barbs to keep it in the ground where it has been pushed to. This process is repeated each time the awn gets wet ensuring that the seed is inserted into the soil where it can geminate.
That’s pretty amazing but I have wondered, even as a kid, why the oats we don’t want would have that advantage over the grains that we do want. I was reminded of this again as I was looking at the story Jesus told of the farmer sowing his seeds. The story, or parable, is allegorical with the seed representing the message or word of God, and the varying soil the seeds landed in representing those who hear that message. (Go to Matthew 13 to read it.)
What struck me was that, unlike a wild oat, God’s won’t force himself on anyone. And this truth isn’t just aimed at those who are not yet Christ followers. If I am not careful I can allow tradition and religious activity, or busyness and pressures of life, or complacency and self-satisfaction to contaminate or harden the soil of my life so that I am not receptive to the messages from God.
Christ follower or not, if you haven’t recognised God speaking to you lately you need to examine the soil condition of your life. If you have received something from God, act on it immediately. Nothing chokes out God’s word more quickly than disobedience. Don’t wait. Don’t debate or rationalize. Don’t even seek counsel from others. If God has spoken to you then act on it now.