Category Archives: spiritual formation

the harvest is coming…

corn harvest

it was a rough spring in this area. the month of May saw well over a foot of snow. and rain that would not end. flood warnings were unending and getting into the fields for planting was next to impossible for many. some were able to plant. some found a different crop with a shorter growth season. a few resorted to flinging seed from crop dusters, hoping for a good result. and others let their fields go fallow for the year, allowing whatever may to grow.

the harvest is approaching and results of the season are evident everywhere. some are lush with corn and beans. others have ground-cover crops to help hold the soil in place. and then there are the untended fields with weeds rampant across their acres. there is no order, no hope for redemption until next year’s planting.

Jesus used many agricultural illustrations and parables. through the centuries others have used garden analogies as well. I have thought through many of them as I drive out of town and pass the various nearby fields.

  • weeds grew quickly, even on previously treated fields. untended fields quickly lose their order, despite the labor poured into them. the field does not remember the crops, the tilling, the harvest, the careful watch for pests. how like my heart that forgets God’s goodness, mercy, and grace so lovingly given!
  • those who flung seed from an aircraft have lost more than their nice neat rows. weeds grow among the crops. and I have no idea how they are going to manage the harvest when machinery is set for the usual rows. the heart harvest is also coming. Jesus will soon separate the wheat from the tares. yet they must grow together or the crop will be lost altogether. do I trust Him with the tares? or am I trying to rip them out on my own and damaging something fragile He knows is there and is nurturing alongside what I see as a weed?
  • Jesus parable of the sower routinely comes to mind, especially when I pass the untidy fields.
  • there is little to no doubt which course of action each farmer decided earlier in the year. just as that decision is plain for everyone to see at the end of the growing season, so should the decisions of my heart and faith be evident in my life and journey. a field of corn is not mistaken for one of wheat or beans. oh, that I am so easily identified as Christ’s own!
  • sometimes Plan B is just fine. when it is God’s plan, it is better than fine! after long delays, some farmers were able to plant. their crops are looking nice. other farmers planted a different crop. again, the crop is not the one originally intended, but there will be a crop. and to the untrained eye, the crops are looking good. even for those who chose not to plant, a year of rest for the fields can be a great thing. I have no idea what they will deal with next spring and the weeds that have taken up residence on their acres, but rest for the land seems a good thing. I had a prof in college who talked about trying to convince his farmer father to not plant a portion of his land and how good that would be all around. there was a lot of stress back in May when crop decisions were being made and what each farmer would choose to do. and while Plan B may not seem the ideal for many, for some it might have ended up better than their Plan A. I wonder how often God’s perfect Plan A seemed Plan B to me and I fought Him on it, kicking and screaming in my heart, throwing a tantrum because I could not understand what was going on. pouting to friends. begging Him to change His mind and let me have whatever it was I asked for. how I wish true rest in His love, care, and plans were easier.

having lived most of life in major metro areas, I find a smaller rural city refreshing on many levels. snippets of farm life come my way from here and there and I find God often whispering, “pay attention here” as we live the life He has given in this beautiful agricultural patchwork. and I pray that I would rest in and trust His way more each day and less my own!

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the sweet and bitter…

friends holding hands

they are still best friends. and when you are four-almost-five, a year or two together is quite a significant portion of life. a year of separation, due to a family move, has not dimmed their friendship. two mother-hearts are torn when they mention missing one another.

she loves surprises, this sweet daughter-gift of ours. and we love giving them! this time it was a few precious hours, shared with others, but a chance to eat pizza and giggle and dance and just be friends together again. a time to renew and reaffirm the depth of childhood friendship. a time to forget the separation and miles and hours now required to enjoy what they once took for granted.

the inevitable tears came. copious tears. a child’s sorrow is hard for all to bear. the deep, unchecked emotion of childhood. the great joy replaced by grief.

as I tucked the still-sorrowing girl into bed, we talked about the roller coaster emotions of the day. was it worth having those precious few hours together when it made her so terribly sad now? “oh yes, mommy. I would rather see her for a little and be sad than not see her at all. she is my friend and I love her. even if I am sad now.”

I left her room with the refrain of Psalm 84 running through  my head, with its modern adaptation:

Better is one day in your courts

Better is one day in your house

Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere

how amazing! better is one afternoon with a dear friend than not being together at all. better is one day in God’s presence, in His courts, than a thousand without Him.

even more amazing is that, unlike leaving a friend and feeling bereft of their presence, we have the gift, not only in the here and now, but into the infinite future, to live each day with God, to be in relationship with Him continually.

there is no bitterness of separation, only the sweetness of days, of life, together.

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the artistry of God

the artistry of God

she loves waving out the front window when someone leaves our home. and she loves it when we wave as she departs for school.

as she ran to her friend’s car, and buckled into the seat belt, I gathered the puppy so we could wave from the front window and blow kisses. imagine my surprise and delight to find deeply intricate frost patterns gracing the glass. multiple patterns, different and overlapping, added to the beauty. the camera was quickly found to capture the rare moment.

over the weekend, as part of a group study, I had been challenged to look for God and His hand in the details of life. a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the sparkle of the snow, some kind intervention to a bump in life’s road, or some such detail was anticipated. the miniature masterpiece gracing the front window took my breath away. it had me wondering how such different frost flakes could form on the same piece of glass, and in the same place.

God IS in the details. having been challenged to look for His hand in them is meant to keep us focused and look at His varied work in the world and our lives. some days He feels far away, silent, and seemingly uninterested. but He is close, perhaps offering a new challenge, a deeper lesson. and if He cares about details as small as the frost across a window pane, how much more about us, His made-in-Our-image creation?

the season for frost is nearly over. but there will be new masterpieces, new details, as the breath of spring begins to blow. and I pray my heart and eyes are open to see Him and His handiwork, to let Him do the careful detail work my soul needs, to allow Him the intricate steps that lead me to deeper Christ-likeness.

if He can create a fairy-dance across glass with such beauty, what can He do with a willing heart in His hand?

may I be willing enough to find out!

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