Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Clearing the land

When I first moved to my neighborhood about 26 years ago, I was surrounded by cotton fields on the north and south sides of the subdivision, equestrian property to the east, and a newer subdivision to the west.  Today, I am surrounded by all manner of growth, from houses to shopping centers and even a new fire department building.  The last of the open lots has just been subdivided and it will soon be occupied by shiny new houses.  As they were plowing up the land around me in various phases of development, one of the things I noticed was the increase in ants, those really big and hairy spiders, cockroaches (those big ones which come out of the storm drains), and even a few rodents here and there.  Field mice were almost never seen in the housing area, but they had no where to go but find a new home while all that heavy equipment plowed up their happy haunts.  Unplowed fields have a tendency to be the gathering places for all manner of disease-carrying, rather obnoxious things.  Even the "fields" of our lives which remain unplowed for a long period of time have a tendency to become the dwelling places for some pretty "foul" stuff!

Your fields have not been plowed. Plow those fields! Don’t plant seeds among the thorns. Become the Lord’s people. Change your hearts. (Jeremiah 4:3-4 ERV)

Dormant land becomes the home of those things which like to hang out, but aren't really welcome too many other places.  The ants like to make their homes there because they face too many pesticides and "anti-ant" activity everywhere else.  The field mice like to dwell in the high weeds of the field because they have little hiding places to escape their natural predators and still make a home for their young.  The other bugs and crawly things like it, too, because that which falls to the ground and is just left to rot becomes both safe haven and food for their livelihood.  Things which like "hang out" are not always the best for us, though.  We put out ant traps and lay down "anti-ant" crystals because we don't like their bites, nor their invading lines of hungry hoarders.  We set mouse traps to bate the unsuspecting field mice because we know they carry disease and will tear apart our attic spaces in short order.  It goes without saying that if they had not been left to their own devices for so long, there wouldn't have been so many of them!

The "un-kept" or "un-watched" or even "un-observed" things in our lives are like the dormant, unplowed fields.  They make good places for the over-growth of things we don't really like, definitely don't want, and which will give us all manner of grief until we are rid of them!  Too many times we wait until there is such a huge amount of "ugliness" in those "fields" that we are almost forced to finally plow down some of the "weeds" which give a safe-haven to the "under-growth" below.  The problem with just cutting down the weeds is that the seeds of those weeds are just scattered!  We get another good crop of weeds in rather short order and before long, we are right back where we started.  Unplowed fields are only dealt with once and for all when they are plowed into fertile soil again, free of the weeds, driven clean of the pesky "under-growth" below!

Too many times we attempt to plant good seed among the "thorns" of our lives. We somehow think the good stuff will grow up and over-take the "not so good stuff" which has inhabited that space for a really, really long time.  The truth is quite evident - that which is "native" to the land is more likely to survive!  The thorns will win out unless they are weeded out first.  You don't plant good seed among thorns - you deal with the thorns and prepare the soil - then you plant the seed.  We all are subject to the desire to take short-cuts once in a while, aren't we?  We want the easy way out - the quickest route to whatever it is we are hoping for.  So, we might cut a few corners here and there when it comes to dealing with life-dominating patterns which are not good for us - but in the end, the outcome will be a little good stuff springing up in the midst of a whole lot of thorns, field mice, ants, crawly things, and the like!

The field takes on a whole different purpose (and "resident") when it is prepared well for that which will be sown into the soil.  The former "residents" have to be evicted and dealt with (eradicated) in order for the new to take up "residence". The only way to live differently is to have a change of heart.  Too many times we think of this as a change of mind - we will just "will ourselves" to be or do better.  How's that been working for the rest of you?  If you are like me, it hasn't!  The truth is our minds are not what controls our every action - we have this plethora of emotions and then our own selfish will to deal with in the mix. Until we allow the "plow" of God's Spirit to work out the "unwelcome residents" of our hearts, we won't be sowing seeds in "thorn-free" territory!  The worries will return, the beasts of that field will soon re-inhabit that place, and what's worse - they bring friends!

God's plan is simple - come to him and allow him to change the heart.  In so doing, the weeds will be removed, the pesky and crawly things will be trapped for good, and the "soil" of our hearts will be opened to new growth - fruitful growth.  Just sayin!