“We should plant a garden!”
Now you would think that a farmer’s daughter would understand the magnitude of what she had just suggested, but somehow, I remained oblivious until midway through that summer of 1986.
Our large backyard had no shade and the expanse of grass was scattered with weeds. Digging it up and starting over seemed just the ticket.
Mark rented a tiller and began the backbreaking job of turning over the hard Central Texas earth. After his first few passes, we realized that it would help if we watered the ground a bit first, so that the Rototiller could more easily penetrate the ground.
Day two, as the teeth of the tiller dug into the soil, Mark realized that one pass through wouldn’t be enough. He worked until dusk going over and over the same plot of land.
Day three, we discovered quite a few rocks in our “garden”. Having no wheelbarrow, we simply picked them up and carried them to the alley. Mark took care of the larger ones and I managed the smaller ones in a little bucket.
Looking back, we should have also carted off the upturned grass and weeds. But in our inexperience, we figured that we had ruined the root system and it would decompose to fertilize our vegetables.
Au contraire. Although we did end up with a nice stand of vegetables, we also fought the grass and weeds all summer.
This bit of gardening gave me a visual about how the Father prepares heart-soil for the seed of His Truth (Luke 8:5,11) and how we can roll up our sleeves to join Him in prayer.
“Water _______’s heart-soil, Father, that it might be easier to begin.”
Just as Mark irrigated our soil, the Father will soften a hard heart in preparation for His Truth (Psalm 65:10). He is just awaiting our intercession.
“Till their heart-soil for depth to persevere.”
So many hearts have been packed, beaten and trampled down by others. Like soil beside a road, it’s no wonder that their lives bear nothing of real value. Ask the Father to overturn their past and soften their hearts for cultivation of Truth (Luke 8:5,12). This may take a while.
“Cleanse their heart from anything which will choke or snatch away Truth.”
Boulders of bitterness may need to be removed (Luke 8:6,13). Thorns of worry or greed may need to be carried away (Luke 8:7,14). Pray as specifically for these past hurts as best you know how. And remember that He is well able to unearth these issues without your meddling. Better to err on the side of silence than on the side of gossip.
“Grant them fertile soil that bears fruit.”
Whatever the Father touches or says is good (Genesis 1:31). He is all about fruitfulness (Genesis 1:28-29). Diligently continue your prayers over the hardened heart until they can bear the fruit of the Spirit – fruit that can last (Galatians 5:22-23; John 15:16).
As you intercede, pray these for your country as well. God likes a large garden. Expand your understanding of His vision for cultivation.
Read past posts about prayer:
Stunned, Jasmine realized that her husband had stopped yelling. His face still very near hers, she now felt moisture on her cheek. As she continued to stare into his eyes, his saliva began to drip from her chin.
As his anger boiled, he continued to spit into her face.
Months earlier, Jasmine began to notice changes within her husband. Sparked by their son’s critical accident, the demeanor of her godly husband had changed.
This drenching would be only one of a series of abuses. Jasmine endured many in the months to follow, before escaping the heightened physical violence through divorce.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial…” (James 1:12).
Today, as a single woman, the Father is using her to minister to other women in abusive situations. I am proud to call her my friend.
You know, there are two types of perseverance:
The deserved and the undeserved.
My life usually results in the first. I speak too hastily or act with impatience, and find that I later must bear the consequence of my actions. It’s grueling and embarrassing, but in the back of my mind, I know that I behaved myself into the hardship.
Jasmine’s adversity well depicts the second type of trial. Though unmerited, the Father still allowed her to walk through this valley of shadows.
In some ways, I’ve been there before, too – but thankfully, through other situations.
Undeserved crisis brings far too many emotions.
Shock – that the Father would allow the pain.
Hurt – that He let me down when I trusted.
Betrayal – when He permitted the gossip against me.
Anger – that I didn’t deserve the pain.
Yet, when we feel we have heard His promise and trusted in His deliverance, it’s all the more devastating to feel that even He has let us down.
I admit that in one such trial, I stepped up to the very edge of forsaking my faith. I even verbalized my intent, but then realized I couldn’t follow through somehow.
I couldn’t stop faithing, even during the times that I perceived Him as faithless.
It is in these times that I know the thorn of faith, once implanted into my heart, cannot be removed, even by my willingness.
Instead, in the silence, I’ve discovered that true Life is most obvious when everything else within you is dead.
I’m glad that Truth is bigger than my feelings about Him. Although within, He is also without – keeping the faith cord firmly implanted in my soul, even when I am ready to let it go.
James reminds us that the trial is inevitable, not just a probable.
So whether it is justified or not, each ordeal deals us a bit more humility.
In fact, humiliation is God’s well traveled path towards true humility.
And sometimes, He will even use our children or those we love most to bring that humility to pass.
How are you persevering? How can I pray for you?