Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fallow Ground

”Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him, and to require His favor, till He comes and teaches you righteousness and rains His righteous gift of salvation upon you.”Hosea 10:12

The coming in of this new year I did not really celebrate. It was nice to be with family watching the fireworks and Chinese lanterns in the distance. But I set no resolutions, no new reading plan or had any sense of expectation. 2011 felt to me like just another year. Actually, to be honest, part of me just wanted to brace myself for more pain. So I guess there was one expectation . . . that of getting hurt again!

However, deep down in my spirit I can sense something . . . something good! Before I touch on that however I need to lay open my heart. On New Year's Eve I found myself going to our fellowship to meet with the church to see in 2011. I was caught totally off guard and the pain was awful. So I reacted . . . badly! Normally I would stay at home with the children watching the fireworks but I felt the Lord was prompting me to go and join with the church. And I knew why. It has to do with relationships. I was very clearly led back to the fellowship I'm in now for the reason of reconciliation, building and nurturing relationships with my brothers and sisters. This I did but ended up getting really hurt again. I was caught totally off guard and the pain was awful. So I reacted . . . badly! After time with God in prayer I was able to forgive and move on, the relationship quickly restored. After that however I became more withdrawn. By the end of 2010 the main purpose for going back to my fellowship came to a halt. I sensed it was important to be with the church where God has placed me to see in the new year. Funny thing was only the people I had yet to form a relationship with were there. That night I took the initiative to start the conversations, something I'm not great at as I'm actually pretty shy with new people. As a result new relationships were formed.

Back to this feeling in my spirit I mentioned earlier. Many have been anticipating great things for the new year. Many always do. But I hadn't been feeling all that positive about things lately. The past couple of months have been petty idle ones. Idle in the sense that I haven't really been pressing on but plodding on. I have grown weary in well doing. I always thought that verse meant in doing good deeds but I now understand it to mean in doing what is right in every sphere of life. In this case it's keeping the peace, maintaining and nurturing friendships while getting hurt in the process. The Amplified translates this verse well:

”And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”Galatians 6:9

Also, other factors which have contributed to my weariness have been this harsh winter here in the UK and sickness. These have all brought me to a slower pace spiritually. Yet deep down I have sensed those people were right expecting great things for they were pressing on!

In summer last year God laid on my heart very strongly Hosea 10:12, ”Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” I knew what the verse meant but at the time nothing really ever came of it, though I did for a while ponder on it. Then this past Sunday our pastor preached on that verse. Suddenly it quickened me! Arthur Wallis commenting on the fallow ground writes:

”What is fallow ground? It is not desert that has never been cultivated. The application therefore is not to unbelievers who have never experienced God's grace. Nor is it necessarily land that was once cultivated, but has now been abandoned and returned to a desert state. So it is not a particularly the backslider who is in view. It is land that has borne fruit in the past, but now lies idle through lack of cultivation.”

That's it! If I carried on the way I was, just plodding along, there was the danger of the ground in the garden of my soul eventually becoming fallow! And what happens with fallow ground? It becomes hard AND weed-bound! Of this Wallis writes:

”One of the main objects of cultivation is to eliminate weeds that would overrun the good seed or the growing plants. 'Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns,'exhorted Jeremiah (Jer.4:3). The people did not heed him, for we learn later that they reaped the thorns that they had refused to weed out (Jer. 12:13). As every gardener knows, weeds do not have to be cultivated to thrive. They are the inevitable product of neglect.”

The exhortation to break up your fallow ground has become a clarion call for me! A warning of what could happen if I just kept plodding on instead of pressing on!
So how are we to break up our fallow ground and keep it from becoming so? Repentance is always a good start but there must first be a self-humbling and contrition. Arthur Wallis puts it well:

”Humbling ourselves is the first step. This gets the blade of the plough into the hard soil. Then comes the contrition that turns the soil over.” When we humble ourselves we ”come out from our hiding place, expose our hearts and lives to the searchlight of God's presence, with a willingness to come to grips with reality.”

Contrition, as a state of repentance, acknowledges as true what God then reveals, then goes on to confession and repentance. Forgiveness and cleansing is sure to follow.

So this is me exposing my heart. Revealed by the light of God's Word I now “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” for “it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

As I meditated on all of what the Lord was showing me, all the exhortations presented before me I suddenly realized something. Something quite wonderful which would bring me full circle back to the feeling I have deep in my spirit of good things. Attached to each of these exhortations are the most wonderful promises! Let us finish today's post by taking a look at some of them:

The exhortation in Hosea 10:12 "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD..."
The Promise; "...till he come and rain righteousness upon you."

The exhortation in James 4:10 to "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord..." comes with the following promise, "...and he shall lift you up."

The exhortation in Galatians 6:9 to "let us not be weary in well doing." is followed by the promise that "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

And the well know passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 comes with the following exhortation; "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;" and is followed by the promise "then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

The last verse is always found when talking about revival. But if we are to see revival in our land we must first experience a personal reviving. We can then go on to pursue revival for our nation. Can you identify with anything spoken of in this post? If so may you go on to humble yourselves, and pray, and seek God's face! Break up your fallow ground, do some gardening and look for the fruit which is sure to come!

Arthur Wallis quotes are from his classic writings on revival Rain From Heaven.

2 comments:

Tom Gabbard said...

Amen!!....I pray that God does indeed revive His work in the midst of the years!!....and I also pray that it will begin with me!!

Latisha said...

Geraldine:

That was so timely. You describe what I've been trying to articulate. I'm in this same place of idleness and take these insights to heart so as to respond to God. I feel my heart wanting to get hard. I too am weary. But that James 4:6-10 is a passage I hold dear and pray through almost daily. It is my cleansing re-dressing passage. I've been feeling some kind of way too, but yet have this undercurrent of "hope" and "fight". I usually poo poo at resolution mmaking. But this year I sense the Lord telling me to seek him in hidden quietness. Which speaks to sthat self humbling you mentioned.

I'd appreciate your prayers.