Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Breaking Up Unplowed Ground

I've been thinking about Hosea 10:12 a lot lately;  and I've been feeling it a lot too.  It reads:

Sow righteousness for yourselves 
and reap faithful love;
break up your unplowed ground. 
It is time to seek the Lord 
until He comes and sends righteousness
on you like the rain.

I don't know about you, but I know of quite a few unplowed places in my heart that need to be broken up.  Sometimes these unplowed places are really obvious, and other times it takes a trying situation or even divine revelation to make me aware of places that need plowing.  

I have a mental list of some of the areas that I want to break up--places that I picture Jesus and I, shoulder to shoulder, each holding a shovel, ready to get to work.  Then there are other areas that only Jesus sees.  And when its time, He lets me in on what He's doing.  At this point, I have a choice.  I can join Him, pick up my shovel, and listen to how He teaches me to deal with this tough patch, or I can ignore the need for plowing and let my heart remain hard and unworked. 

I think of all the areas of my heart that feel dead--areas that I want to grow--and my soul resonates with passages like Deuteronomy 32:1-2 which says:

Pay attention, heavens, and I will speak, 

listen, earth, to the words of my mouth.
Let my teaching fall like rain
and my word settle like dew,
like gentle rain on new grass
and showers on tender plants.  
Moses is speaking to the people of Israel.  He is encouraging them to listen to Yahweh’s words   to them which will be like rain showers on new, tender plants.  More and more lately I find myself in need of words like these--words that will fall gently and cause new life to spring up in my heart.  So I’m waiting.  I’m listening.  I’m trying with everything in me to pay attention.  
As soon as a major theme like “gardening” (with all the implications of healing, watering, revival, and new growth) comes up, I try to tune in and pay attention to what Jesus might want to speak.  It is so beautiful how Jesus begins to use His word to whisper specifically into these areas.  For example, I’ve claimed Psalm 65:9-13 for myself (and maybe you're in a place where you'd want to claim it too!):

You visit the earth and water it abundantly,
enriching it greatly.
God’s stream is filled with water,
for You prepare the earth in this way,
providing [people] with grain.
You soften it with showers and bless its growth,
soaking its furrows and leveling its ridges.
You crown the year with Your goodness;
Your ways overflow with plenty.
The wilderness pastures overflow,
and the hills are robed with joy.
The pastures are clothed with flocks, 
and the valleys covered with grain.
They shout in triumph; indeed, they sing.
Now, it would probably take a little bit of exegetical work to figure out how to apply “the pastures are clothed with flocks” to my heart, but my soul resonates deeply with the idea of my heart being softened with showers and blessed with growth.  I'm glad He softens the ground He is cultivating with showers!  And I’m so thankful that Yahweh’s ways overflow with plenty!  
I hold onto beautiful promises like the one found in Psalm 68:7-9:
God, when You went out before Your people,
when You marched through the desert,
the earth trembled, and the skies
poured down [rain]
before God, the God of Sinai,
before God, the God os Israel.
You, God, showered abundant rain;
You revived Your inheritance
when it languished.
I did a whole post on that passage, probably over a year ago, and it means even more to me now.  The God who was faithful to revive His inheritance (the people of Israel) when they languished, is also faithful to revive me when I languish.  He is faithful to revive you when you languish.  
Reading through God’s promises to Israel in Ezekiel 36 has also been extremely life-giving to me. (Let me say here that I realize there are a lot of different views on whether promises made to Israel have been transferred to the church, are shared by Israel and the church, or are retained as promises for Israel alone.  Although I am still learning about all of this, I would say very non-definitively that I probably fall somewhere in the middle of this argument.  With what I have learned so far, about God’s character and His promises, I would say that He will keep His promises to Israel.  I also believe, however, that His heart toward Israel is a beautiful picture of His heart for the rest of His bride:  the church.)  As I compare the heart of God in Ezekiel 36 with what Jesus has said His heart is for His church, I believe I can be encouraged by the promises therein.  Ezekiel 36:9 reads:
Look! I am on your side;  I will turn toward you, and you will be tilled and sown.  
I would dare to guess that as I sit overwhelmed, seeing all the places of hard ground that I desperately wish would be plowed and cultivated, healed and watered, tilled and sown--that it would be just like Jesus to walk over to me, crouch down to my level, turn my face toward His and say, “Look!  I am on your side;  I will turn toward you, and you will be tilled and sown.”
This is where our hope lies.  Our hope lies in Jesus’ heart to never quit on us.  He sees our lives.  He sees the hard places in our hearts.  And His desire for cultivating, watering, and the springing forth of new life is probably even stronger than ours.  

So lets pick up our shovels.  Let’s ask Jesus where to begin.  And when He shows us places that need to be broken up, let’s ask Him to help us dig.  The softness of the rain He sends on our hearts will help to alleviate the initial pain of the plowing!  When the plowing becomes painful, let's trust Him--believing that what He is doing will yield a beautiful harvest.

Ezekiel 36:34
The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of everyone who passes by.
Isaiah 51:3
For the LORD will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places,
and He will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of the LORD.  
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and a melodious song.
Oh Jesus, we will break up our unplowed ground.  We will seek You until you send righteousness on us like the rain (Hosea 10:12).  Jesus, let our lives bear beautiful fruit, that YOU may be glorified and YOUR name made famous in all the earth.  


  1. Ah, you humble me, Ches. Thanks for this. -Hannah S

  2. I'm going to keep up with these Chesney.
    This was exactly what I needed today and it's help to lead me to Jesus to renew my strength.
    Thank You

  3. Wow, I wanted the name dancing in the rain for my blog when iaat wasn't allowed I googled it to see who had it and every blog led me back to God ,