Tag Archive: Soil

A field left fallow

For a year, I took a hiatus from writing here on this space.  It was something that I needed to do for the sake of learning about what God had been prompting me to do with my life.  It has been both the most interesting and most difficult year of my life with regards to the development of my character and direction for my life.

I have both missed terribly and at times not even noticed that I was in fact not writing.  The dichotomy of being a creative being and someone who has been working hard at being consistent at not-so creative things is a weird one.  I know that I needed extra space mentally, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually this past year.  My creative life has been used, but my writing has been like a farmer’s field lying fallow for a season.

The concept of a field being fallow is one where the ground is tilled and ploughed but not seeded.  Some equate that concept to being stagnant or wasteful, but after a little time learning how to tend our garden (and now the youth group that I work with at our church), I recognise the importance of letting the soil rest before planting again.  The ground has to be ready to receive the seed, and it must be nurtured enough to be able to support the growth that may come.  Otherwise, it’s a useless and fruitless endeavour.  I recognise now, how important that is.

After my mother’s passing four years ago, I saw with regret all of the work that she wanted to still have done.  It was daunting and overwhelming.  There’s never enough time or enough people to accomplish the work.  There are always ones who need love and care, and there is always service to God in which to be immersed.  I still wince when I think of all the things that she could have accomplished had her time here been longer.  If I am to make the most of my time and efforts, I need to take care of myself like the Apostle Paul said to do…

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him.” — Philippians 3:8-9

So I, in this past year, have had much that I could have written.  Some, I know that I will regret never scribbling down.  Some, I know that I am better off for not having spent the time.  However, I do know that for where I am now, there is a smouldering that is not an all-consuming fire to be creative and write.  The embers are still there, waiting to catch flame, but I need His lordship ever more to use it for His glory and purposes.  There are too many other things and people that need me as both worker and soil to be ready to grow God’s fruit and not sow my own thoughts and feelings.

So, today on what would be my mother’s 73rd birthday, I recognise that it’s time to start planting seed again.  My prayers are that if He deems me worthy, that good stuff will grow in the future.  Perhaps I will have another 30 or so years to be able to invest in fruit that doesn’t rot or spoil.


The Value of Soil

The ground is weary.  Dried and crumbling.  Each footstep upon it crackles and snaps, like breaking its bones.  It, disheartened and weak cannot stand against the neglect of a relentless sun day after day.  The dirt cries out in anguish, desperate and failing.  After years and years of prayers being unanswered, hopes and dreams disappearing like vapour, it starts to give up the ghost.  The spirit starts to leave the ground behind, and life seems to be waning without sustenance.

Someone comes along.  Her feet contributing to the decay, they stop.  She refuses to move forward and leave yet another set of footsteps through.  Unlike those before her, she does not move past leaving this to swelter and cry alone.  In her heart, she sees a mirror of her own life.  So much time has gone by.  Such rich and promising things could have been.  She too has cried out mercilessly weak and unable to change her lot.  Potential becoming a metaphor for failure.  Emptiness chosen over and over, replacing hope.

Now to look at either as places where fruit would grow is unthinkable.  The ground lain too long fallow is unworkable.  The person far too long set in their ways to ever change.  Untenable.  And so both have been written off, like so many times before.  Cast away, cast out.  Abandoned.  Forgotten.  Alone.

She realises that unless she does something, the ground will never be what it was supposed to be.  Generations and years will go by and the world would detrimentally and radically be different from what it should be if she didn’t do something.  Anything.  And she realises that every effort she makes with the soil she stands upon will be an effort of her own reclamation.

That’s what it is… reclamation.

God entered my mother’s heart and reclaimed something that was already His.  She, for many many years, had deliberately stayed outside His care and at arm’s length.  She felt abandoned, discarded, like there was nothing left of worth to come from her life.  By the time God reached in and broke through the walls keep Him at arm’s length, my mother was well into the latter 3rd of her life.  She never quite got the visual image of her world being dry, broken, crumbling and of no use out of her head.  It was a struggle that lasted until her last days.  

She struggled with the concept of nobility.  That she was what the scriptures said to her.  She was uniquely special, called by God, a royal priestess, God’s mouthpiece, and His arms and feet.  For most of us, those concepts are vagaries, but for mom, they were daily struggles.  She knew that deep down she was meant for so much more.  But like the land in the previous metaphor, the roots couldn’t grow in land so beaten about by the previous 50 something years.  She always saw herself as ignoble, for nothing more than common things.

Then she saw it.  In the words of a teacher, she saw it.  In the experiences related from a pastor, she saw it.  From the desperate pleas of a leader, she saw it.  Her eyes didn’t see the ground parched and pleading.  She saw the lush land with fruits and vegetables growing.  She saw the ground producing life-giving sustenance.  Her belief saw what could be and believed it would be.  It will be.  That’s what she didn’t get for so very long.  That the commonplace, the everyday:  the tilling of the soil, working it with your hands, watering it, and waiting expectantly for green shoots to push through the ground that once was a desert and dying.

As God opened up her eyes, that there was a ground desperate for care, she often would say that she had two arms and she could hug anyone and everyone that she could find.  She would provide nourishment in a place that had none before.  She did so because she was once that dry land.  Her heart and life was very much a wasteland.  As God poured His living waters out and they permeated the soil of her heart, she transformed.  No one really understood the depth to which she felt that.

She fell in love with this ground like she was rediscovering the beautiful child of Christ that she always has been.  For her it was the ultimate place.  Like it was created just for her.  Imagine finding yourself in a discarded place, in the midst of a crumbling reality.  Imagine seeing the beautiful sight that is seen through God’s eyes, not accepting the obvious.  Her whole life turned upside down, and she used up all of the rest of her life for what she saw in that image. 

Her land was in the hearts of those wonderful kids at Base Camp United Christian Federation.  An orphanage.  Hearts discarded because of loss, war, disease, death.  She saw such life and joy and promise.  While she was able, she tilled the weary soil, planted seeds, and yet she will not get a chance to see them bear fruit.  The work must still be done.  The soil is fertile for God’s love to be made manifest. 

My mother reveled in the opportunity to grow things when she moved to Kasese, Uganda.  She ended up having a place to grow fruit and vegetables just steps away from her living room.  I think she loved the simplicity of what it takes to grow things.  Everyday she had to pay attention to the crops.  Watering, seeds, tilling, and most especially enjoyably… harvesting and having the fruits of her labours.  She once sent me a message frantic from the other side of the world… it turned out that she has just harvested her first cucumber and tomato and pepper.  What a special example of nobility in purpose.  She was meant to work the land.

The harvest was rich, and as it turned out plentiful.  What a rich reminder not to get discouraged as the days stretch on.  What an amazing gift to have to reflect God’s gracious love for her.  Just like He rejoices with the investment of those extending love on His behalf. 

Each of us has been tended to for us to reach where we are.  Someone reached us when we were proverbial wastelands.  God wants to reclaim us, to restore us to be who we were created to be.

The ground is still weary.  The people are incredibly weary.  They both feel abandoned and broken.  We’re craving being taken care of, attention being paid to us, and hope for change.  We need to remember that the fields are in desperate need of healing.  Do not let us forget that.  The world around us is crumbling, dry and disheartened.  Be committed to the noblest effort, that of reconciling all of creation to He who created it. 

So… will you tend the soil in desperate need?  Will you step out and provide the thirsty ground what it needs?

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