Have you ever gotten choked? It is overwhelming. Whatever may have had your attention choking will suddenly consume all of your attention. Getting immediate relief is the only priority. What is choking the life out of you right now? Just as with our physical bodies choking will demand all of our attention even so with our mind we can get “choked.” When our thoughts and resulting fears begin to overwhelm us we are “choking.” Jesus spoke to this common obstacle in life in Matthew 13:1-9; 22.
In Matthew chapter 13 Jesus tells the story of a sower who went out to sow. The society was primarily agrarian so Jesus’ hearers would have understood what he was talking about. It was common to observe farmers sowing seed whether in large fields or small yards. It was a way of life as most people had to cultivate their own grain. In this story Jesus speaks of the various types of soil upon which the seed falls. The condition of the soil determines the size of the health of the crop. Jesus pictures some of the seed falling on soil that has thorn bushes growing in it. He says the thorns grow alongside the plants and choke them. The seed falls on the soil. The soil has the capacity to grow the plants from seed to an adult plant. But the seed is sown along side thorns. As the plants grow so do the thorns. Eventually, the thorns overwhelm the plants and choke the life out of them. Notice the thorns were there from the start and grew right along side the plants. It seemed to work for awhile but eventually the thorns won. This is the reason when gardeners will daily watch for weeds and thorns and remove them as soon as they see them.
When the “seed ” of God’s truth his Word is planted in the “soil” of our lives often “thorns” are waiting to grow along side his Word. Jesus identifies these thorns as, “the cares of the world or this age and the deceitfulness of riches.” The cares of this world or age are the things that we worry over and consume us. We listen to the worry far more than the Lord. Our “world” is also filled with reasons for us to focus only on the negative that is happening all around us. All the worry, fear, and anger choke the joy, peace, and satisfaction of life right out of us. Jesus speaks of the “deceitfulness of riches.” Money –wealth makes the false promise of peace, satisfaction, popularity, and security. We can become obsessed with money. We reach a place where we are willing to “sell out” for the false promise of the reward of riches. How many have lost family relationships, friendships, and character just to have more. It is like a mirage. It looks so promising but when one drinks of riches he ends up dry and empty. They choke on the emptiness.
How do we get free from the choking? First identify the “thorns.” Often they have been growing in our lives for a long time. Most “choking” takes place slowly. The “thorns” are usually linked to places where we think and feel inadequate. This demands we take a long and hard look at our inner selves. Second, pull the “thorns” up. We have to get rid of the thinking in our lives where we choke on worry and are consumed with the material. We have to be deliberate about removing it from our lives. This is tough work! Finally, we have to choose to walk in the truth of the Word of God. Jesus says we have to hear the Word and understand it –apply it. I choose to rest in him not riches or what ever I am worrying over and trying to control.