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When ideas like the one in this post are presented, a good friend of mine calls them “modern parables”. I love that idea! Thanks for reading, dear ones! I surely hope that you might be encouraged with this attempt at a modern parable.
Since this idea is too long for just one post, stay tuned for more to come in the following weeks with this…
Supposed to work and actual working are often not the same thing, unfortunately. Most any farmer or gardener knows well that he can only influence soil fertility, disease and insect or animal pressure, and seed quality without any hope of even trying to influence, much less control, the weather. If even one of these variables is awry, crop productivity and thus, harvest declines. Worse yet, in many instances, even one less-than-ideal variable can negatively influence one or more other variables and compound the decline in both quality and quantity of crop productivity. And when your entire paycheck is dependent on what comes from your garden, field, orchard, barn, stable, or vineyard, every dollar or plateful not gained at harvest is a dollar or plateful not available to feed your family, your animals, or yourself. Talk about trusting God as your only source of hope for this life and the next…
Habakkuk captured this concept in Habakkuk 3:17-18 (GW) Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle—even then, I will be happy with the Lord. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me. The “even if” worst case scenario of empty fields, barns, and vineyards was a very real possibility with the Israelites then, and for many today, be they farmers or not. Empty barns, fields, trees, vines, bank accounts, pantries, wombs, other side of the bed, days of pain, email or voicemail boxes, or hours can rob one from a harvest of joy meant to satisfy her soul. For joy cannot be duplicated or replaced, it can only be planted, cultivated, and harvested from the fertile soil of an “even if” faith. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:17 (GNT) also had this “even if” faith when confronted by Nebuchadnezzar – the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up. That’s the kind of faith this soil scientist yearns for – a solid and unyielding foundational faith, an “even if” faith in the face of certain death from famine or furnace.
As a Christ-follower, I’m supposed to have this kind of faith but in reality, all too many times fear wins in the all-consuming mindset of the “what-if’s”.1 “What-if” I lose my husband, children, job, home, freedom, or _______ and am left empty? Or “what-if” this doesn’t happen and my dreams, hopes, or desires are left empty?
“What-if’s” worries demand my attention and sour my stomach in stress while “even-if” acceptance gives release, rest, and hope. The constant exchanges of “what-if” doubts for “even-if” trust cultivates that deep-rooted faith of John 15. Only a deep-rooted faith holds firm against stormy fears of failing finances, health, relationships, freedoms, or whatever the internet, TV, or email is hurling at me. Fear’s constant onslaught tries to overshadow the seeds of faith and decreases their potential harvest of joy and courage. I wish I was a Proverbs 31 woman who laughs at the time to come because she knows deep in the soil of her soul that only God is and will always be enough for whatever the future holds (see Proverbs 31:25b).
Deep-rooted faith grows strong in the good ground of a life set aside unto Christ. For the life set aside unto Christ is the life that is continually being restored by resting in His provision, peace, and power (see Matthew 11:28-30 and Nehemiah 8:10). The principle of finding rest and restoration in God’s provision can also be seen in soil science. Set-aside land or fallow ground was supposed to be a regular farming practice in Jesus’ day for one year in every seven years as commanded in Scripture (see Exodus 23:11). For when ground is allowed to fallow, it has a Sabbath rest for the natural renewal and restoration of depleted organic matter, water, earthworm and microbial populations, soil particle aggregation, and nutrients. Similarly, poor people in Israel would also be restored in food and hope as they alone could harvest that grain or fruit which sprang up from the fallow ground as prompted by Creator God.
Creator God’s prompting of fruit to be borne in my life from the work of the Holy Spirit, Scripture, or others who seek Him faithfully is constant, even if I don’t always hear it, much less welcome it, the first, second, or third time around. These “what-if” paths of worry and doubt are well-traveled, unfortunately. Worse yet, there are other well-trodden paths of other sins in the soil of my soul that are good only for serving up seeds to the birds always trying to nest in my hair. Yes, my sin is to blame for a good measure of these hard paths in the soil of my soul, but not for all of them…
Come back next week to the blog for the continuation of this idea…there’s a lot more good ground to dig into here (pun fully intended!). As ever, thank you for your support of this soil scientist who dearly loves Jesus and His people in every particle of her soul!
If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for the release of Good Ground, Volume 2 coming soon to most online book distributors including Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes and Noble! The first chapter of Good Ground, Volume 2 is where all parts of this modern parable can be found. Far more importantly, you can find the reference for this idea in the parable of the seed, soil, and sower in Matthew chapter 13. Trust me, the original parable there in Matthew 13 is definitely worth reading over and again (along with all parts of the Bible, of course)!
Good Ground, Volume 1 – now on sale on Amazon. A great purchase for you and for many on your Christmas list – reading is always the right fit!
And coming soon is Good Ground, Volume 2! You can order both books at the link below or at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and other online book distributors.
If you’re looking to buy a bunch of copies for a group, the link below offers discounts for these kinds of orders:
Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2022