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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The plowing of our hearts

7 When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing.
(Hebrews 6:7)

We have previously studied the various types of soil that a farmer might come across in his journey to bring forth a crop.  There might be rocky soil that is able to bear some crop, but then it soon withers because of the lack of both nutrients and the heat of the day scorching its tender roots.  The soil could be hard, unyielding to the seed sown, easily snatched away by scavenging birds or carried on the wind.  Regardless of the type of soil, it has to be "tended" in order to bring forth a crop.  

Yesterday, we looked at the idea of renewal - the process of something being made new or refreshed.  The process of renewal for the one who farms is often a process of plowing the earth - turning over the soil time and time again until it is "fit" for the reception of the seed.  In the plowing process, renewal occurs because that soil is broken up, allowing the farmer to see what is hidden below the surface.  The plow has a purpose - it is to create a newness in that field.

The plow cuts up the fallow areas - those that have remained unturned, trodden down by constant wear and tear.  Those fallow areas are often barren of any real growth because they simply have not been touched by the farmer's plow.  Once he plow is brought to that soil, it has a chance to yield a crop.  The surface has been opened to accept what might be sown.  The plow often digs deep, but that first pass of the plow is not the last.  It is by the frequent and consistent passage of that plow over that soil that it is made receptive - the plow's work is not done until several things occur:
  • What is hidden is exposed - in a spiritual sense, these might be the hidden areas of our heart that have been carefully guarded against exposure.  We often "tuck away" certain areas of our hearts (of our emotions) that have been hurt by others, neglected through misuse, or simply ignored because of a lack of interest.  The Lord is a compassionate farmer - he knows that what remains hidden will only hinder the growth of the crops he desires to produce.  It is only in the exposure of what lies beneath the surface that he can truly ensure hindrances to our growth are removed.
  • What is unyielding is broken - it is always in God's plan that the soil of our hearts be open to receive what he has for us.  When the farmer first passes the plow, the clods of dirt are huge!  In the frequent passage of that plow, those clods become more broken, smaller in size, and more receptive to the seed.  Huge things in our minds and hearts are made smaller by the passage of God's plow.  The impossible become possible because he breaks it down to manageable size.
  • What is untouched is made fresh - in the passage of the plow, rocks are exposed.  In the exposure of those rocks, there is the possibility of removing them.  The rocks serve no purpose in the field, but they may make a nice fence - their usefulness in the field is limited, but in the master's hand, even rocks have a purpose.  In the passage of the plow, weeds are removed - allowing that which only sucks away our strength to be removed and the soil of our hearts to be available to bring forth the fruit he promises.
The plow is never easy, but has such huge potential.  The heart is made ready for seeding.  New areas of our spirit, mind, and emotions are opened to the possibility of new growth - through the process of the plow.  I don't know what God uses for the plow in your life, but I have experienced loss of job, sickness, trouble in relationships, financial stress, and the list goes on.  Each served a purpose - although their purpose may not have been readily evident in the midst of the plowing!  The important thing is that he knows what plow brings us to the place of our optimal growth opportunities!  So, instead of resisting his care, we need to yield ourselves to it.  In so doing, we enjoy the possibility of renewal.