Fencerows and me

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Isaiah 61:11 ESV The earth causes plants to grow, and a garden causes the seeds planted in it to grow. In the same way the Lord God will make goodness and praise come from all the nations.

Have you ever compared your life to an old fencerow? If not, let me unpack this idea a bit before you think I’m even more eccentric or crazier than you thought before now…

Overgrown or weedy fencerows used to be considered a sign of laziness or ignorance in farming. Even if a farmer’s fields were clean of weeds or residue and neatly planted in straight rows, he was often viewed as incapable if his fencerows were full of weeds or residue. Overgrown fencerows were perceived sources of disease, weeds, or other potential threats to crop plants in the fields. In other words, weedy fencerows were seen as problems for the plants instead of keeping out problems from the plants they were supposed to be guarding.

Yet in recent years, research has shown that overgrown fencerows are great as wildlife habitat for species at risk of extinction and as potential germplasm sources for genetic improvements in crop plants. How ironic is that? The very thing that was a mark of incompetence is what was potentially as (or more?) valuable than the crops themselves.

So when riding on the back of Andy’s motorcycle the other day admiring all those fencerows bursting with wildflowers, birds, and misplaced sticks, the following idea bloomed in my head. Diseases, disabilities, disasters, and other life challenges with encroaching effects could be the most important source of potential growth for my faith and the faith of others. In other words, those unwanted weedy fencerow circumstances in my life might be the very place where God is at work for the now and the not-yet.

If I am willing to trust God with fencerow circumstances trying to grow over my life, then the fields of my life can be nourished with a fresh germplasm of mustard-seed faith. If I am willing to let God overgrow long-cultivated arrogance with weedy humility and uncontained love, then the fields of others’ lives can be replenished with blooms of a distinctively beautiful grace and mercy.

If I can see those overgrown fencerow life circumstances of pain, loss, grief, or sorrow as under God’s control and with His purpose, I can flourish there in places I used to think were lost, rejected, or worthless. God can and will redeem all things for good (see Romans 8:28-29).

The very things perceived as incompetence or laziness of will to overcome on my part might be rich germplasm for the fruit of the Spirit to be germinated, grown, and creating the next generation of hope in my life and others. If I am willing to let fencerow circumstances be open doors for others to know love and feel seen, then God can do a good work through me. His plans are always best, even if I might want to see them as otherwise in my own perceptions of what I (or others in my world) might think as right or better.

Only our Good God has the full view of the why, where, when, how, and what of our lives, including fencerow circumstances. And that’s okay because only our Good God is in full control of fencerows and farms and all the emotions, choices, and outcomes associated with them. He is always the Good Gardener looking forward to the harvest for the now and the not-yet. Only He can and will cultivate good in the soil of our souls and in the fencerows of our lives.  

Dear Father God,

Thank You that You always have everything and everyone held firmly in Your hands. Thank You that I don’t have to worry, even when I feel like I’m living in a fencerow. Please help me to embrace You and Your plan for me as good, especially when I don’t feel good. Please help me to trust You in all things and all places.

In the strong Name of Jesus,


2 Corinthians 9:6 NCV Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest, but the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest.

Good Ground, Volume 1 available now and Good Ground, Volume 2 coming soon! You can purchase both at www.nebpvermont.com or other online book distributors including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and Target.

Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2022.

Published by Beth Madison

author, speaker, learner

2 thoughts on “Fencerows and me

  1. Loved this analogy. I grew up with those unkempt fence rows that were dull of quail and wild rabbits as well as small trees we used for roasting hot dogs over a campfire. God is so good!

    Liked by 1 person

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