Fresh Fields - A ... Unhindered reaping?

Weather beaten and faded leather bound feet trod deliberately and carefully as they crossed this ancient near barren dust.

Furrows had been ritually dug, and the seeds casually cast across their shallow homes. The farmer's now distant desire was to turn barrenness into blessing, and famine into feasting. Long he had sown and equally long the poverty of good results received. Although, for many earlier generations this soil had been most reproductive.

Now these careful footsteps were driven by simple desires. He wished to walk in the furrows and not crush their soft shape. Previously on countless occasions he had felt the piercing pain that the thorn infestation inflicted upon his scarred feet, it was his strong intention to totally avoid these thorns.

Foolishly his ground preparation had not removed all the thorns. His naive intention was to sow the seeds of success among thorns. His inept soil preparation had almost guaranteed the opposite.

He would faithfully pray for rain, he would pray for no frosts. He would pray ever so diligently for warm weather and expect the favours of heaven. He would pray for heaven to bless the labours of his hands, that he had sown among thorns.(Lk 9:4)

Weary at the relentless seasons of sowing and weak in energy, his vision never quite reached to the adjacent field. It still seemed preferable to sow among thorns than in that unploughed field. He knew too well the family legends about the difficulties of that field. Best he stay in his familiar thorn infested field than strive for new and 'difficult' fields.

For many generations now the family had left this fresh field unattended. In fact the entire family believed ill of it. Apparently some forefather had broken his back in that field trying to crack the crust. It was just too hard, unresponsive and infertile to ever work again. The entire family considered it wiser to sow among the thorns than attempt to plough this fresh field. Even the youngest generation believed this to be true.

Heaven would continue in silence to his prayers. Heaven would never want to multiply thorns. To water his field was in fact to water his biggest enemy as well.

The fresh soil of the next field was unwanted, un-worked, and unfurrowed. Remaining still was the unbroken crust, that even thorns had been unable penetrate. Untried the crust still looked too daunting.

Yet for uncounted decades now God has poured His rain, nitrogen and gentle sunshine over this fresh field. The previously impenetrable soil now only had a shallow crust. The soil constantly and steadily grew in richness each season. Available to the farmer was fertile reproductive soil capable of the long absent harvest and many feasts for the farmer's family.

Still the farmer chose to sow among the thorns. He maintained his incorrect ill belief of the fresh field and the fertile soil. Still he toiled.  Still his work remained most difficult. Still his family struggled. Still he prayed. (Jer 4:3)

Occasionally (especially while near the thorny field's perimeter) the farmer would glance at his fresh field. He would see the crust and note its continued barrenness even to thorns. He would wrongly conclude each time that if not even thorns would grow, neither could his crop.

Wistfully too he would briefly reflect how much more pleasant his farming would be without the thorns. The sowing, the nurturing and the reaping, he particularly dwelt upon and especially unhindered reaping. A good crop from good effort gained and gathered well was truly the deepest longing (though unexpressed) of his heart.

This unspoken desire had never been met nor was it likely to be. Quickly he dismissed each chance glance (really those chance glances were 'snatched away' Jn 10:10a). He could only see the field's hard work, its  barrenness and remember its history. Legend does not live truth.

The aged sandals, the dirty thick skinned and sun beaten feet would soon painfully feel the entry of the timeless thorns yet again. His face now just kept its grimace and his stomach would still know the gnaw of hunger (so too his family). Satisfaction and feasting always elusive from a crop sown among thorns.

The fresh field was both tantalising yet uninviting to his educated eyes. Inwardly this fresh fallow field begs the farmer ... please sow in me, you will reap crops unimagined, bringing prosperity to your family and countless blessings to unknown others.

Yet, he would always sow in much pain and reap very little; for that is the nature of sowing in thorns.

At various times and with uncommon bursts of energy the farmer would attend with a new diligence to his thorn infested field:

  • he would fertilise the ground (but this really only encouraged the thorns and weeds),
  • he would uproot the thorns (but quickly pain and the enormity of the task would overwhelm him),
  • he would plant even more seeds (but they just got choked out so much more easily).

All his efforts he felt were worthless. His family still struggled greatly, the thorns were always present and life became very dispiriting even to the point of depression. 'Fruit' barely present for all his difficult toil. He too was gradually becoming convinced of a pre-occupied and disinterested heaven.

The adjacent barren and fallow field remained just so. His prayer, provision and prosperity lay beside him. His vision only lay behind him.

Lk 8:11, 13:18-21      20th-21st Dec 08

Read Making Sense of Today's Church ... Part A - Post Denominationalism

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