My family teases me about my proclivity for word pictures. Sometimes they’re useful in communication, other times I find I’ve applied a five-pound metaphor to an eight-ounce idea. When my youngest son was in high school I apparently used too many football metaphors to drive home my points because he’s a grown father now and he’ll still tease me. “Mom, it’s like you’re 3rd and 9 with 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter and….”
Well friends, today’s word picture is brought to you by the letter R.
I’m a city-girl who married a farmer. Like most farmers, my husband is outstanding in his field. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one!) Farmers mark their anniversaries by harvests rather than years. Though we are the quintessential example of the attraction of opposites we have successfully marked off twenty-four harvests. For farming families, life revolves around the seasons and few people better understand the principles of sowing and reaping than farmers. Can you imagine the fodder for word pictures here?
A short drive around our large farm will reveal a number of rock piles. They represent years of cultivation, planting and harvesting.
Each spring, as soon as the ground is dry enough for tractors, the fields are worked in preparation for planting. Spring work involves a two-step process. The fields, which were disked after harvest the previous fall, are roller-packed and then harrowed in preparation for planting. Harrowing (no, it’s not scary) is like combing the clumps of dirt with rows of metal teeth. It’s like a giant earth comb. At first glance, the fields can appear nice and smooth after this process.
However, by the time the field has been planted the ground will have been worked over three separate times. This vigorous working of the soil brings large rocks to the surface, rocks which damage equipment and implements. You would think that after sixty years of working these same fields we’d have come to the end of rock harvesting. Not so.
No matter how smooth the ground appears prior to the growing season rocks are churned up every single year. It’s critical they be removed. No doubt, you’re already beginning to see where I’m going with this.
Whether we’ve been a Christian four weeks or four decades, the Holy Spirit’s cultivating process in our hearts will continue to uncover obstacles that are damaging to both ourselves and others. We can become discouraged when hidden things are continuously being revealed. I can. “Lord,” I lament, “where did that come from? I’ve worked so hard to overcome and here I am again, still dealing with the same old stuff.”
My rock pile consists primarily of shame and insecurity boulders. My heart intention is to live a cultivated, fruitful life to the glory of God but I still stumble over the same rocks–and their cousins. Two things can happen to me when those rocks crop up. One, I can get frustrated. And then, in my frustration, I can become vulnerable to deception and the temptation to throw up my hands. I’ll never be free of this. I give up!
When I’m working at something so strenuously and feeling frustration in the process it’s a good indication that I’ve moved over from grace-living into the dangerous territory of pride. I entertain the notion that I have what it takes to present a better version of myself. I think that by improving myself, even if it’s a pretentious show, then I will have the approval of people and therefore provide myself some security. (I can’t believe I just said that.)
Self as the prefix to anything is dangerous ground!
The undeniable truth is that transformation is always a work of grace and divine power. The bible says that it is God who is at work in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure. It clearly states that God will complete the work He has begun in me. I am His workmanship. (Phil. 2:13; Phil. 1:6; Eph. 2:8)
I didn’t initiate this transformation process and it is certain that I will not accomplish it under my own power. My role in this process is not that unlike the ground on our farm. I yield. I yield to the initiation of God and His transforming power. When we step out on our porch at night, we don’t hear the ground grunting and groaning in an effort to bear fruit.
Humility yields to the work of Christ in our lives. It can be my only response to the transforming work of God in my life. Transformation requires humility; humility allows acceptance and surrender. Like the men in our fields, God wants to remove those rocks from us so that we aren’t encumbered by them but also so that we don’t become a stumbling stone for others.
King David earnestly prayed:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, lead me in the everlasting way.” (Ps. 139:23-24)
My husband made peace long ago with rock harvesting. Rocks are part of the storyline in farming. And they’re part of the story God is writing of us. I have yet to hear him come in from the fields yelling, “You’re never going to believe the boulders I found out there!”
Friends, can we make peace with two things?
- We need to regularly pray David’s prayer. We can be so easily deceived by our own hearts. “A man’s ways are right in his own eyes, but God weighs the heart.” (Pr. 21:2)
- Secondly, let’s not be surprised (or frustrated or angered) by what is revealed in answer to that prayer!
My husband wants to find those rocks. He wants to know what is lurking beneath the surface so he can avoid a breakdown and prevent expensive repairs.