Like his father before him, at one point of his life my Grandfather was a farmer. He told farming stories about his relatives that came before him. He spoke about how land that was deemed worthless for farming, because it had a swamp on it, was transformed by a rather determined Uncle of his. He talked about how some fields needed to remain unplanted for a season so that the soil could rest, and how subsequent harvests on such fields were so much more bountiful after that rest.
And, he talked about hard seemingly unyielding ground that had to be plowed up so that seeds could be planted. The process was harsh. The plough is large farming implement with one or more blades fixed in a frame, drawn by a tractor or by animals and is used for cutting furrows in the soil and turning it over, especially to prepare the soil for subsequent planting of seeds. It’s sharp pointed edge cuts deep into the soil as it is applied in rows across a field. In the plowing process the blade cuts deep into soil, usually 8-12 inches, and turns the soil 180 degrees. The result is that weeds and previous crop residue are buried in the process. The soil then becomes receptive for planting the seed for the new crops, creating better conditions for the seed to germinate, grow roots, and produce a crop.
“This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.’ ” (Jeremiah 4:3-4, NLT)
As I work my way through the Bible, and in turn the Bible works its way through me, it’s words and lessons become better meshed within the fabric of my life story and within my very soul. We see a continual call to us from God to return to Him, to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. To keep Him first and foremost in our lives. And often times, as He did with his own beloved people, He sends sharp circumstances to plow up, and turnover, the hardness of our hearts. He’s calling us to repentance, so that the seeds that He plants within us can become a fertile crop for feeding ourselves and others.
Yes, the plowing process is not pleasant, but it readies us for the bountiful harvest. It all begins with recognizing that our hearts are hardened, offering a true contrite repentance, so that we remove the weeds that choke out our relationship with the source of all love – God.