I’m not just sounding off because I’m irritated. This is all written in the scriptural law. Moses wrote, “Don’t muzzle an ox to keep it from eating the grain when it’s threshing.” Do you think Moses’ primary concern was the care of farm animals? Don’t you think his concern extends to us? Of course. Farmers plow and thresh expecting something when the crop comes in. So if we have planted spiritual seed among you, is it out of line to expect a meal or two from you? Others demand plenty from you in these ways. Don’t we who have never demanded deserve even more?
- 1 Corinthians 9:8-12 (The Message)
“The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow… But it’s paying a terrible price for its tranquility: Never does it see the miracle of growth; never does it feel the motions of mounting life nor see the wonders of bursting seed nor the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.”
- A. W. Tozer, Paths to Power
The Apostle Paul was justifying his position with the Corinthian church. In his argument, he asks if the farmer who plows the field should expect a crop. Of course, he should expect a crop. A properly tended field should produce fruit.
This is an odd time to be thinking of ‘fallow fields’, since harvest season is in recent memory. But actually, some farmers are spending this time of year thinking, and praying, of what they should do in the spring.
Rev. A. W. Tozer goes on to say about the cultivated field, “The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. All over the field the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born to grow, mature and consummate the grand prophecy in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.”
I guess John Maxwell’s words are appropriate here. “Hoping for a good future without investing in today is like a farmer waiting for a crop without ever planting any seed.”
Don’t be fooled by those at church that brag about their great wealth and how God has blessed them. C. S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters, “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him.” Rare is the person that can resist the call from the wealth they have amassed.
Yet, don’t worry about them. Could it be that God doesn’t expect much from them? Have you ever built strength and muscle while lying on the couch, eating junk food, and clicking the remote? No. You get out of anything what you put into it. The rich man’s purpose before God is between them and God, not you. If you are rich, you have a great responsibility to God and those who are less fortunate, and that could be rich in a variety of things, not just money.
If you feel broken and bruised, as if you were a field having just been plowed, God just might be preparing you for a mission. That mission may be within your home, across the street, or around the world. If you listen to His voice, it will be clear to you, supported by the scriptures. But sometimes the plowing is necessary. Vance Havner wrote, “Sometimes your medicine bottle says, ‘Shake well before using.’ That is what God has to do with some of His people. He has to shake them well before they are usable.”
But if you have ever done any farming or driven through farming country throughout the year, the farmer only plows for the season. He also plants seed. In more arid climates, he may provide irrigation. There may be other tending, such as fertilizing and spraying to kill pests. That depends on what type of farm. And when the crop is ready, there is harvest time.
Have you ever found an old jar in the barn that contained ‘mystery seeds?’ If you have done enough gardening, you can tell something about the seeds, but what strain of bean, if that is what it is, will I get? Actually, I found some mystery seed once. I thought it was close to black-eyed peas, so I planted them. They turned out to be something similar, but they were a climbing runner type pea. They started choked things around them, growing faster than I could build a fence where they could climb and grow. But, wow, what a crop!
Maybe you have some mystery seed in your spiritual barn. They don’t do anyone any good sitting sealed inside a glass jar. In the jar, they are dry and safe. Tozer might even say they are smug and content. Aren’t you the least bit curious as to what those seeds will produce?
There’s only one way to find out. Plow the ground and plant the seeds.
And then watch nature’s wonders that ‘follow the plow.’