How Things Grow, [Work]

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A farmer slowly walks behind his plow. The ground is hard and unyielding, but the steel cuts the heavy sod like a knife. He is preparing the soil for receiving the seed. He knows that what he is doing is imperative and he shouts out to encourage the horse. Its getting late and he wants to cut another furrow before night.

Plodding behind the plow he thinks many things. He can break up the ground, till and fertilize it, sow the seed— and then wait. He is powerless it get the seed to germinate and grow. He is limited to cultivating the soil and waiting. That is all he can really do, and he accepts this powerlessness. He can do everything right, and still not have a crop. All he can do is his part.

The farmer works in partnership with God. He is dependent on Him to grow the seed. The farmer must rely on the weather to meet and engage the planted seed. There are no shortcuts here. He does all he can, and then hopes that it is enough.

Farming is a joint endeavor between man and God. The man does what he has to do. God takes what the man has done and then finishes it. The crop will grow because He wills it. The farmer plays a part for sure, but ultimately God must become involved. Afterall, He makes the seed to sprout and grow.

We can say decisively that the pursuit of holiness in a Christian’s life is a joint endeavor between a believer and God.

Each have made the effort. The Christian does what is necessary, and then the seed is finally sown. It is then up to God to make the seed become the seedling. But each must work to finish the growth.

No one can attain holiness in their life apart from the work of preparation (it’s indeed work). The man must prepare the ground through plowing and cultivating. The farmer works the ground in order to make the ground ready. On the other hand, God provides both the environment and the growth needed to grow the seedling. Both the farmer and God must do their work.

A life of holiness is not automatic. It will never come at measured pace, trickling into our souls at a mechanized rate. (It would be nice if it would). Rather it wheat-field-landscape-picture_1920x1200_79595seems to come, in fits and spurts, sputtering rather than simply flowing.

Holiness is like a steamy Amazon jungle, vibrant and full of life. It is saturated with things living and green. It is not like an arid and sterile desert. Holiness is pulsating and powerful, full of lush growing things.

Becoming a person of holiness is the grandest adventure for the human soul. It defies our tendency to be rigid and legalistic. It is quite the opposite. It is tapping into life itself, and who is up to the task? Our morbid ideas of what holiness are not worthy of what really is.

Yes, to be holy is to work. Just as the farmer must prepare the soil for the seed, we too must guide our plows. God is ready to sow, and we should be ready to be ready. That is if we want to be fruitful and productive.

“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth!”

 Jim Elliot

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Riding the Underground, [with Jesus]

“And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.’

Mark 6:31, ESV

Our Savior would never drive us to do things with a whip.  He is not a taskmaster, and he will not insist or impose his will over us.  Nothing about him is brutal or demanding. (He could, really– if he wanted to.)  But no, we learn how to serve him from our loving hearts.

It is interesting that it was Jesus that was very careful, and aware of his disciples needs.  No one suggested a break from the work, but Jesus initiated the break from the massive press of the crowds. He knew intensely what his disciples needed.

 “Crowds of people were coming and going so that Jesus and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves, and we will go to a lonely place to get some rest.”

Mark 6:31, NCV

Underground-SymbolThe presence of so many people had put the disciples in a very hard place.  The NCV describes the crowds, as “coming and going.”  If you have ever been on the London Underground you will understand just the sheer number.  Everyday, 2.93 million people ride the trains.  I remember travelling from the backwoods of  Alaska, with just a backpack, and hitting the crowds on “the tube” in London, UK.

The intense masses were way beyond anything I ever imagined.  Talk about a “culture shock!  I saw more people in just 3 minutes than in an entire year of living in Alaska.  It was like an amazing giant ant-hill; I would stop, and just stare. Nothing prepared me for this. But I knew His presence was with me.

Jesus is more concerned about the living freshness of his disciples.  He shuts things down in order to rest with his followers.  Often the tendency will be the opposite, especially when the leader is weak and immature.  “Work harder, and even more hours!”  Jesus did not have the need to be available 24/7.  And he certainly didn’t expect his disciples to.  His heart is committed to his followers.

He “orders” his disciples, come apart and let’s rest!

“But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31, CEV

I don’t know if you can grasp the sensitivity, or see the nuances of Jesus shepherding his disciples.  He has a deep awareness of them; he doesn’t get lost by people pressing in from every side.  He loves the world of men and women, but his followers are his “specialty.”

He tunes in on their frequency, and knows our spiritual capacity.

What gives his followers strength, is to be close with Jesus, and to separate from the needs that were densely surrounding them.  We can be flattered by being needed, but that can be very corrosive or destructive.  I’m guessing but I believe that a few of the disciples may have been annoyed by this break in the action. They found it hard to remove themselves from the action.  Some may have been frustrated, perhaps maybe even slightly irritated by “Jesus’ retreat.”

When you are pouring out, you will find there is only a certain capacity before you run dry.  You may think this is “noble and praiseworthy” but it is nothing of the sort.  It is a form of arrogance and pride.  In order to really mature as a believer, we must shake this off and not to entertain our seeming indispensability to the cause.

We must keep on following Jesus into the quiet places.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28, MSG

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An Eternity With God, [Get Ready]

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18″ So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

2 Corinthians 4:18, (NLT)

This dear ones, is an awesome verse with some pretty profound implications. The more I marinade in it, the better it gets.

But more importantly, it refuses to give in to the temporary. The earthly reality that swirls around us is brief. Its provisional purpose is an exclusive one; it exists to prepare us for an eternity with God. That hope ‘rewires’ us. We must be prepared for this encounter, we must be changed.

The spiritual realities are the ones that are truly real,

And the ‘Bible truths’ are the ones that are really authentic.

Issues must be settled in the temporary ‘here-and-now.’ You might say, without being too audacious, that we’re being groomed to be royals. And maybe we truly are. Perhaps this is the fuller implication of having eternal life? We seem to be destined for a throne. And God is eager enough to make it happen.

C.S. Lewis writes: “We are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. ‘How he’s grown!’ we exclaim, ‘How time flies!’ It’s as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course, the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.”

Eternity is the real world. It is quite unlike anything else. Our present situation is one of preparation: a new ‘language,’ new attitudes, new relationships– in short, a new life. Someday we will shine like a newly minted penny! And some, are starting to shine already.

C.S. Lewis also wrote, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

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