Plow the Dry Places
We have a small backyard at the house that we rent. It was January when we saw the property for the first time and the backyard was... umm... underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the home that God has given us, I'm just saying that the backyard was nothing to write home about. I attributed its mangy appearance to the fact that it was the middle of winter and held out hope that the spring of the year would bring new life into our little plot of land. It did not. Instead, when the ground thawed and our new puppy arrived we realized that our back yard was hiding all types of unexpected treasures in the topsoil. Within a week our dog found a knee sock, a nail polish bottle, a spatula, countless pieces of plywood and plastic, and shards of glass. The soil was bad, no wonder very little grass (and a whole lot of weeds) wanted to grow there. It would be foolish of me to go outside tomorrow morning and expect to see a beautifully manicured, lush green lawn, not because of a lack of rain or sunlight but because we haven't prepared the soil.
“You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops.”
- Psalm 64:9-10
What a beautiful verse about growth and increase and provision! What a wonderful picture of what God does and how He moves and yet: Who plowed the ground?
If you ask any farmer about how their crops grow, eventually they will come to the part of the process in which the sun shines and the rain falls. It's no question who allows those things to happen, but it would also be senseless for the farmer not to do his part as well. I grew up in a rural farming community and I can promise you that I never once saw a farmer scattering seed in an overgrown, unplowed field. If we don't plow, God has nowhere to rain. The more we prepare, the more ground there is to harvest for “the river of God has plenty of water.” There is no fear of us ever exhausting the supply. If there is no increase, the first place we should troubleshoot is whether or not our hand is to the plow.
According to Wikipedia, the prime purpose of plowing is to turn over the uppermost soil, bringing fresh nutrients to the surface while burying weeds and crop remains to decay. Encyclopedia Britannica adds that a plow is the most important agricultural implement since the beginning of history. Sounds important, like it's a necessary step if a harvest is expected.
Over the next several weeks, we will start digging into what it looks like for us to plow the land that God has allotted to us. For this week though, I want to focus on what type of land we should be targeting: the dry ground.
“But He also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities.”
- Psalms 107:35-36
It takes great faith to prepare the dry places for the increase that doesn't look like it's going to come. That's why we need to remember that we serve a God of impossibilities. If He breathed on mud and a man stood up, of course, He can rain on a hopeless situation and transform the land! It's time for us to start expecting Him to live up to His character and stop giving up or ignoring hard situations completely because we are afraid that our God isn't going to come through. That's what it all boils down to, isn't it? We don't want to be disappointed. We don't want to do the necessary work in case He doesn't show up. What if we look foolish? What if He lets us down? But what if He doesn't? What if He planned to touch our communities, our families, our workplaces through our lives surrendered but we were too scared to step out and prepare the soil for Him to move? For with God, nothing is impossible and His word never returns void (though sometimes those returns are packaged differently than we had expected). Are we proclaiming it?
“Revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat. In any community, revival can be secured from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die—or if need be—to win and die!"
- John Wesley & (later) Charles Finney
We have this habit of looking at spiritual things through our natural eyes. We see dry land, an inhospitable place, and we write it off as worthless—that our time could be better spent someplace else, anywhere else. When really that is the land that God wants to partner with us to transform. He turns deserts and dry land into oases that whole cities are built around. He is in the business of impossibility! I honestly believe that He enjoys blowing our minds. The life of a believer should be a life of awe, a life with your jaw on the floor.
So friend, what desolate places are you walking past? What areas look too far gone, too hopeless for fruit to possibly come forth? Today let's ask God to give us new eyes—eyes of hope and faith—to see the land the way that He sees it, with unlimited potential for growth. Let's pay attention to the way we speak about situations, people, and regions because the way we speak is a window into the way we perceive. It's time for us to repent of the box that we have put our Lord in and start dreaming big dreams.
Just because you didn't see the increase in the past, doesn't permit you to bow out of your responsibilities in the present. God has placed us all strategically, He has set us on our lampstands to shine, not to cower in the face of the giants in the land. Let us rise up Church! Rise up and let's start staking the ground, claiming it as our own, and not backing down until the harvest is safely in the barns.
Written by Amanda Strauser