Episode 4: Surveying the Land

When I start to get discouraged in my work, my friend Lindsee always reminds me to “keep my hands to the plow.” For a long time, I pictured myself mowing my field—leaving a perfectly manicured, green lawn behind me. But one day it struck me: a plow is not a lawn mower. A plow doesn’t manicure the lawn. A plow plucks up the dirt, turns over the soil, leaves behind what looks like destruction.

Unplowed ground to the untrained eye always looks more pleasant!

Unplowed ground, however, isn’t prepared to sustain life. It isn’t prepared to receive from the Giver of Life. A good farmer knows that the condition of the soil is critical for the success of the crop.

In this episode, we’ll consider the state of the soil of our lives in light of the parable of the sower from Luke 8. Is our land packed hard with old habits, like a well-worn but infertile path? Are there rocks of disappointment, doubt, or disillusionment in these fields that need to be revisited and removed? Have thorns grown up and choked out the life that longs to live here?

The secret to good soil is not that it is inherently better: it is that it is tended.

“Habits turn to cycles turn to seasons, and seasons turn to years before we know, and we lay still alive but barely breathing. And we whisper, ‘That’s just the way it goes.’”

— Ross King

Listen to “Unplowed Ground” by Ross King. (“Unplowed Ground.” Ross King, And All the Decorations, Too, 2002, Ross King.)

Invitation to Respond:

Survey your land.

Plowing is slow and tedious and life-long, but start by taking 5 minutes [RIGHT NOW!] to survey the land and to resolve to do something differently. Let the sift the soil and place the plow in your hands.

If you need a nudge as you start thinking about your land, consider these questions from the parable of the sower:

  • Are there parts of our fields that are packed tight as a path—hardened dirt, where the seeds of God’s truth cannot grow?

    • What areas have we neglected?

    • What habits do you tend to return to when you should be turning to the Lord?

    • Is there anything in your life that you’re doing just because it’s the way it’s always been done? Is there anything you’re excusing because it’s “just the way you are”? Is there anything you explain away by saying “that’s just they way it goes”?

  • Are there parts of your field that is filled with rocks, where there is no room for the truth of God to take deep root?

    • What circumstance or event do you look back on and wonder where God was or feel as though He failed you?

    • Are there sins that you haven’t confessed and turned from?

    • Do you have any old hurts or wounds that you ignore because it seems too painful?

  • Are there parts of your field overgrown by thorns? Are there areas that look full but where all those plants don’t let the Truth grow up into the maturity God intends?

    • What are you filling your life with this distracts you from the Lord or detracts from His work in your life?

    • Are you preoccupied with perceptions instead of letting God and others see the reality of who you are?

    • Is there something that needs to but cut down and pulled up by the roots?

The Lord is inviting us to cultivate faithfulness right here in the land where we are living. Pick up the plow. He is faithful to sow the seed. Let’s be ready and responsive when He does.

Scripture References:

Jeremiah 4:3

Hosea 10:12

Luke 8:4-8, 11-15

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