Mark 4:16-17

When was your last visit to this rocky ground Jesus mentions? Did you stand there, sheepishly surveying the withered remnants of what you assumed was growing so well? 

If you have been to rocky ground recently, you are not alone. Those of us with a tendency to make immediate, enthusiastic commitments before thinking through their full cost stand with you. As our excitement about wonderful possibilities grows, important information fades into small print. Details escape us and we fail to ask necessary questions, like what do seeds of all kinds (plants, projects, promises) need in order to root deeply, grow steadily, and blossom through whatever storms are heading their way?

Mark loves the word immediately, using it twenty-seven times in his sixteen-chapter gospel. Like bookends, it appears twice in today’s two verses, supporting Jesus’ description of faith on rocky ground: they immediately receive it with joy (v. 16); immediately they fall away (v. 17). 

When the word applies to sudden joy or instant reward, we love immediately too. Who doesn’t enjoy the enthusiasm we experience when we picture new possibilities or a vision worth embracing? 

But just as they immediately receive it,…immediately they fall away. Faith that lasts requires more than just immediate joy. It asks us to realize what God is offering us, appreciate that gift, and give ourselves to its care. Deep roots are what sustain faith when the storms arrive. What would it mean for us to immediately accept the commitment to grow and care for the faith God gives us?


When have you made a commitment you were not able to sustain? How did—or could—this become a teachable moment in your spiritual life?


God, help me joyfully embrace the faith you offer by learning from you and working with you to keep it alive. Amen.

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