Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)
It never gets old — that surge of joy I get when I see the first shoots of crocus and hyacinth poking up their little green heads through the receding snow. It’s proof positive that, though I couldn’t see it, things have been happening under the surface: things that will produce growth that is fresh and beautiful and can be seen by others.
Jesus has planted His Holy Spirit in the garden of my heart. Things are going on there that I may not see until a new shoot of inspiration, an unaccustomed selflessness, a fresh compassion, an enlightened understanding instead of judgment, or some other result of His work in me appears at the least-expected time. Perhaps I’ve felt snowed-under, tired and sore from digging out. Maybe I’ve been stuck in what seems like an endless freeze/thaw cycle. But then I see the tender emergence of new growth, and the promise of more that will flower and bring beauty in its own unique purpose.
Not everything that is planted flourishes. Light and soil conditions have to cooperate. Nutrients and moisture must be adequate. When they are, plants can withstand adverse weather and pests.
Not everything the Spirit has planted in my heart has flourished. Sometimes the soil there gets dry because I haven’t been drinking deeply of Him. I haven’t exposed myself to His Light long enough to stimulate growth. I haven’t always allowed His Word to nourish me. When I make these choices, I feel dry, dark, and depleted. I’m more vulnerable to the pests of doubt, old guilts, and depression that Satan unleashes.
But God keeps planting, working and waiting for me to spend time with Him and be nurtured, taught and shown. He keeps working to break up my unplowed ground, sometimes through harrowing experiences that will crumble the stubborn clods of my pride, selfishness and independence. He doesn’t waste any of my troubles, but reshapes them into what can be useful and productive: a new concern for, and empathy with, others; a needed re-set of priorities; facing truths I’ve avoided.
For God, it’s always planting season. His desire is that it will always be growing season for me. He has given me all the tools I need; I just have to choose to use them.
O Father, keep me growing, I pray!