by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 NKJV
The holidays are past, and the long cold nights of winter are upon us. Do you know what that means? It’s seed catalog season—that time of year when we race to the mailbox everyday hoping this will be the day the offering of botanical bliss will be waiting for us. (Actually, I don’t even know if that’s still a thing.)
It’s certainly not for me. The universe seems to have caught wind of my horticultural history and deemed me unfit. In fact, my husband has forbidden me from buying plants, claiming it is cruel and unusual punishment for the plant.
But I remember my grandmother and my mother receiving these catalogs, pouring over them for the newest variety of sweet corn or most intriguing color of Iris for the coming Spring. Once the selections were made and the order placed, the work began. Every effort was made to make sure the best possible conditions were available for the seeds or plants once they arrived. Ground cover was removed, debris cleared, rocks dug up and relocated, and the soil was tilled. Sometimes borders were built, or material such as compost or sand would be added to the existing soil to help create the right growing environment. As the ground began to thaw in the Spring, they tilled it until it was a soft and suitable place for something good to grow.
God is a gardener and the place He seeks to sow His seeds is in our hearts. But just like soil of the earth must be prepared, so too our hearts must be made ready to receive His seeds and provide a nurturing place for what He plants.
Sometimes our hearts are overgrown with weeds that need to be removed. What we listen to and watch, the things we fill our time thinking about: all these can cause things to take root that are destructive to the good things God would like to plant there.
It is easy to let parts of our hearts become like fallow ground. Fallow ground is land that has never been tilled or has been tilled but is now left to idle. Whether our hearts have never been tilled, or they once flourished with growth but have since been ignored, both conditions will make it difficult for seeds to penetrate and take root. We must plow the unbroken ground of our hearts until it is a soft, fertile place for good things to grow.
The work isn’t easy. Pulling weeds, breaking up the dense soil, digging up rocks, carting in good soil if needed—these things are not necessarily fun, either physically or spiritually. We may have to distance ourselves from certain situations or old friends. We may have to give up unimportant things we enjoy but rob us of the time we need for what is important. We may have to dig deep in our past and take a painful look at the things we have wanted to keep hidden. But it is the only way we can turn our hearts—our whole hearts—into the fertile ground needed for the seeds of God’s love.
We should be prepared for sore backs and blistered palms. We can’t be afraid to get a little dirt under our finger nails. But if we are willing to work, we can anticipate the harvest of righteousness that will come.
Lord, I want a soft heart toward you. Please give me discernment to spot the things currently in my life that need weeding and the strength to deal with them as I should. I want to make You my highest priority in 2019. Amen.
About the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.
Join the conversation: What have you found to be helpful in keeping your heart soft toward the Lord?