A crabapple tree leans, its branches weighed down with pink and white blossoms announcing spring’s arrival to our backyard. Ferns circle the tree trunk and unfold after a long winter’s sleep. They stretch up with desperate fingers to catch sunlight and snag the petals that skitter down. Some petals catch the wind and blow to the lawn, where on the grass, a dozen wayward ferns sit, newly sprouted. Unless I transplant these baby ferns, they lie in the lawn mower’s path.
One year, I uprooted a few and placed them on the hill where bits of afternoon sun stream through a spotty forest. Ferns need dappled sunlight, not strict shade, which led to pockets of fern-jungles growing inches away from patches of bare dirt. They stand tall and sturdy and remind me of the parable of the scattered seeds in Matthew 13.
“Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” the disciples asked Jesus.
Jesus’ reply emphasized the value of listening to his teaching. Then he said to them, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear” (v. 16 NLT).
When God opens our ears to hear and our eyes to see, we understand why we need Jesus. Jesus stands at the right hand of God the Father and makes a way for us to stand too. Before that, we are like wayward ferns. We lie on the wrong path, having chosen our way, not God’s (Romans 1:21). But Jesus scoops us up, he re-plants us and imputes to us his righteousness — an undeserved, unearned favor and kindness, like that place of dappled sunlight.
"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus." — Ephesians 2:4-6.