Tending the Garden of My Heart

Fallow Ground

No harvest?

When I moved into my home, the previous homeowner left a beautiful vegetable garden. The first year, I tended the remaining food growing there. The next year, I traveled for work in the spring, and never got around to preparing the garden or planting anything. The result—worthless fallow ground.

One Saturday this year, while spring tiptoed around the corner, I spent several hours tilling the earth. The once soft, pliable ground didn’t easily give way to the tines of the rotary tiller. Less than halfway finished, I determined to do more work the following day. Sunday dawned, gray skies casting a dreary forecast for my planned day of breaking up more ground. However, by 2:00 PM, sun bathed the small area in my yard. After church and lunch, three of my grandsons joined me raking out grass while I guided the small garden machinery.

Ethan said, “I like gardening. I get to spend time with Nana.”

Belonging in this world provides a strong foundation for the future. As a grandmother, I get to make sure the precious children God placed in my life always have a place where they belong. Unfortunately, not everyone possesses this treasure. A sense of not belonging wounds deeply. Added to raw, gaping wounds, my reaction to them leaves the heart crusty, a life force devoid of value—like a garden left unattended. Until we submit our hearts to the gentle plow of Holy Spirit work, a hardened state remains.

The first pass through my garden took 10-12 hours to complete. Even then, the soft earth went down only a couple of inches, not nearly enough to sow seeds and produce healthy plants. I needed a second pass, moving more slowly and letting the tines dig deep. The work seemed much easier with the surface broken, yet still took time to open up the richness of soil underneath the top layer.

The same is true of our hearts. I better understand Jeremiah’s instructions to break up fallow ground (Jeremiah 4:3) Plowing and fertilizing dirt creates an amazing harvest, but keeping the earth soft and ready for growth requires constant attention. I can’t stop after a surface breaking of the hard places of my heart. I must go deeper, revealing the painful places in the garden of my heart. Only then can God truly heal me. After planting a garden, I must still work, removing weeds, watering and tending daily. In the same way, my heart needs constant feeding from the Lord, moving past his initial healing of past hurts. After all, today becomes the past as soon as tomorrow arrives. The pain of today requires healing too.

As we enter the week leading up to remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection, I challenge you to seek out the hardened areas of your heart. Let him reveal the places to dig deep and break up fallow ground, so your spirit once again becomes soft and fertile—ready to bring life to those around you.

What wounds have hardened your heart?

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