Updated: Jun 15
Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And when the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much. (Mark 4:3-8 NASB)
Pop, pop, pop! The popper weeds are cropping up everywhere in the yard! Known more widely as Bittercress, the Kelly-green leaves and small white flowers are not unappealing. But, oh, we know what’s coming! Per a lawn care company, “as the plant matures, the seed pods literally burst when touched. This causes the seeds to fly far from the parent plant (up to 10 feet)… The average seed count per plant is 600.”
I was out in the front yard last week pulling popper weeds, in the lovely 45-degree sunshine, and thought about my life. Miel’s blog post last week evoked Jesus, the fruitful vine, and us, the branches—cultivated, pruned, fruitful in season. I love that, but I identify more with the despised popper weed than I do with the cultivated grape vine. The popper weed is spontaneous and ubiquitous and ordinary.
I see Jesus as a kind of popper weed, perhaps the King of Popper Weeds. In the parable of the Sower above, Jesus is not emphasizing soil testing and prepared beds. The Sower’s seed is landing everywhere, on every kind of soil.
The response to Jesus was phenomenal. At the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, “the whole city gathered at the door.” One man cured of leprosy “went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere” (Mark 1:33 and 1:45).
But, like lawn lovers who want that Bittercress OUT of their soil, a murderous opposition developed as Jesus popped out the gospel everywhere He went.
And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. (Mark 3:6)
We know how that ended.
We could logically conclude that a popper weed strategy is unwise, particularly in our suspicious and hostile age. Only pop out a seed here and there where it looks really safe.
But that strategy has its own risks. Are we ashamed of our faith in our Savior? Jesus asked us to take up our cross and follow Him, not to be ashamed of Him (Mark 8:34-38). Opposition comes with the territory (John 15:20). Like David, when we see God laying a feast in front of us, we see enemies too (Psalm 23).
How can I become the best popper weed I can be?
Get out there in the world. Um, yes. Pandemic. Still, in 2020, neighbors came over for outdoor happy hour, walked together, or chatted on the sidewalk. My masked alter ego saw bakers and cashiers, Costco gas station attendants and the nursing home staff where I dropped off notes and cookies. And there was Zoom.
In season and out of season, keep on popping. After my dad’s death, so many conversations turned from death to life and faith and God. The day I arranged for Dad’s remains with the funeral home director was a day of distress for her. We talked and prayed. I count her as a friend.
Replenish the seeds. The pandemic year was a kind of sabbatical for me, with more prayer and Bible reading and meditation than I’ve enjoyed perhaps ever in my life. Every sermon was brilliant; every insight from my sisters and brothers in Christ had to be written down and pondered. All of Scripture is alive and so top-of-mind.
I aim to be a truly excellent popper weed, wearing God’s good word on my sleeve and bumping (lightly) into people. Pop, pop, pop!