I grew up on a farm and never developed a desire to be a farmer myself, but as the daughter of a life-long farmer I had a deep appreciation for the hard work, wisdom, and knowledge it took to do this very important job. I listened to much of what my father would share about what he was doing from season to season trying to assure he would yield a good crop.
Certainly, there was a great deal that my father did not have control of related to the farming process. Chief among these was the weather. One of the areas greatly impacted by the weather was the condition of the soil and the soil was key to the harvest. Tending to the soil was an ongoing process throughout all the seasons of a year.
From time to time my father would do a soil test to determine what the soil on our farm needed. Under applying nutrients would retard plant growth and reduce the yield of the field. Over application of nutrients would be expensive and potentially create an environmental hazard.
Weather could influence what nutrients were added. If it was too wet, one choice might be made. If it were too dry, another combination would be chosen. I recall my father would also rotate crops from field to field since different crops take different levels of nutrients of the soil. Rotating helped keep the soil healthier.
A farmer knows that good soil is dark-colored and crumbly when you feel it with your fingers. He wants to keep the soil well drained, avoid erosion, not let the soil be too dry, and add nutrients to improve the soil and maintain its health and productivity. What a task! It is one never to be devalued as “less than” by those with title, position, or degree.
So, why am I talking about soil? Because we are the soil where the Lord plants the seed. You can read about it in Matthew 13:3-9 where Jesus tells the parable of the different kinds of soil and results when seed is sown there.
I think we often tend to think of that in regard to salvation and I would not disagree, but the condition of real soil does not remain constant. How the soil is used or depleted impacts whether the soil remains healthy and able to produce a rich harvest. Weather is also a major factor regarding that.
We have a choice about what kind of soil we are. We too are impacted by “weather”. The “storms of life” assail us from nearly every direction and batter us. The soil of our heart can be eroded. The heat of spiritual battle can also impact the soil of our heart.
All of these things that come against our heart can tempt us to harden and protect our heart, to cease to risk loving or giving. We can also lose track of how exhausted our heart (the soil) is from giving, loving, and serving for a great length of time and we fail to notice we are depleted.
To keep our heart (our soil) in the best condition, it must be fed and nourished regularly. Yes, time in the Word does that as well as prayer, but we can become locked into a pattern of those things without adding other nutrients we need. We can gain nourishment from rich fellowship with a few others who care for our hearts. Such nourishment can also come from time in the midst of His creation, listening to great music, viewing meaningful art in all its forms, and most certainly rest.
A good farmer knows the soil in his field needs to be able to rest in order to continue to produce. Rest comes in many forms beyond sleep. It can include solitude, changing our routine or areas of service for a period of time, or simply laying down the endless requests that come our way to do one more thing, be one more thing.
I have experienced many seasons and known periods of severe weather as well as drought. I have experienced rich harvest as well as depletion. I do not see myself as “old”, but I am no longer young.
I desire in this season above all others to be the soil of Matthew 13:8:
“Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some ‘a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”