“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”Hosea 10:12 ESV
I used to be ‘that person’ who said things like, “I just don’t have green fingers,” and “I kill anything I try to grow.” But I’ve discovered over the last couple of years that none of those things are true. Most of my gardening problems were down to a lack of soil preparation. Through trial and error, and proper soil preparation, I finally have a garden that’s starting to look quite pretty. Even more of a ‘bonus’, I find that the garden has become a place where, as I plant things and watch them grow, I am reminded and challenged afresh by scriptures long buried (planted?) in my heart.
Break up the fallow ground
Poor soil results in weak plants. Plants that are planted in bad soil will struggle to survive. After winter, the soil is all crusty on the top. There are dead leaves, dried sticks and oh so many weeds! All this needs to be got rid of, before I can even think of planting any new seedlings. This is where tilling comes in. It exposes all the dry, dead matter.
The prongs of the garden fork cut deeply, removing the hardened top layer of the soil, and allowing water to get to the roots of plants.
Yesterday, as I was tilling the soil in our garden, it struck me again how much this applies to our hearts. To MY heart. No wonder the Bible is so filled with farming references as life lessons!
This past 2 years of lockdown after lockdown, churches being forced to go online, rather than meeting in person, and the general sense of disconnect has taken its toll on many people. It’s been like a very long spiritual winter.
Many now find themselves on the brink of spring with the soil of their hearts hardened with a crusty layer that needs to be tilled.
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT
Surrender, Planting, and Fruit!
In much the same way as the tines of a knowledgeable gardener’s fork, go deep but with great care, into the soil, the sharp, double-edged sword of God’s Word digs deep into our hearts. This requires something from us: willingness to be quiet before Him and the vulnerability to allow Him to expose, lay bare and correct. To see ourselves through His eyes of great love, to agree with His perspective of us, and to surrender to Him.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
When we allow the light of God’s Word to expose and reveal the things we think are so well hidden, and surrender those things to Him in true, tender hearted confession and repentance, He gives us power that far exceeds our own strength, and enables us to walk in ways that bring glory to His name.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT
It all starts with soil preparation. Just between you and your Father…..how is your heart-soil today?