Till The Ground
by Marissa Busby
His eyes grazed over the desolate land, heart heavy, and mind overwhelmed with all that needed to be done. Where would he even begin? It had been years of trouble, drought, famine, and war across this place, and the soil had taken a beating. It was evident in the crumbling ground, thick with dust, and heavy with turmoil. Dry branches cracked and fell to the ground matching the roar of thunder rolling through. “How funny, God,” he huffed in sarcasm. “Of course, you give us this land. Of all the land, in all the world, you chose this, you declared this be the place. Why? It is nothing. It is dead,” he argued. “Precisely, my child,” the Lord of hosts whispered back. “It is dead, but it will be streaming with life when I walk in. How else would they know I am the Lord your God if it was already alive? I bring the dead to life again. Prepare the soil. Till the ground.”
I have been reminded this week of the work that comes with bringing new life. Spring is an incredible time of growth; we love to see the new buds, beaming flowers, and feel the fresh air breeze across our face in the bright afternoon sun, and yet, there is a ton of work that is done behind the scenes to make that possible. I spent hours this week weeding, mulching, pruning, and tilling up the ground, getting it ready for new growth. My fingernails are still bearing the remains of dirt left behind from digging and planting, and my body is achy from the hours of work spent in my gardens. Yet, I will do it again next week, and the next, and the next because it is so beautiful when it is done, and it brings incredible life to my soul. The magnitude of God’s goodness is evident in the overflow of spring on our property, and his mercy is radiant in the tiny new buds just beginning their journey of proclaiming his glory. We are called to till the ground, and each time I do, I am smacked in the face with his call for our lives.
“Till the ground.”
His body ached as he continued to dig. It had taken four days to finally find water and begin building the well. It was the first sign of life on this horrid land, and it caused something in him to spark alive again. He was beginning to see the vision, eyes opening to what God was stirring. He spent hours, days, and weeks simply tilling the land, getting it ready to plant. Oh, how his heart longed to see the harvest, to reap what he was sowing. “Let the fruit grow Lord. Let me pick it and rejoice in its goodness. I cannot wait to see the greatness, to do big things, and to show those around here all that you and I have accomplished. Send the fruit quickly, Lord,” he sighed with a large smile as he worked. His excitement was beginning to flow as he saw the big picture and began to dream of what could be: fields of fruit for all to partake of, rows of wildflowers for children to run through, an abundance of water for animals near and far, and a home for anyone who needed one. Oh, the dream was big, but it was powerful, and he longed for the day of basking in its glory. “Till the soil,” came the still, small voice. Gentle was the rebuke, but it hit him deep. “Till the soil,” Yahweh whispered again. His heart dropped as he heard, yet he did not comprehend. “But I want to be a part of the harvest,” he whined. “I will bring the harvest in time. Partner with me, not with what you believe I am doing. Partner with who I am, not what I will do. Partner with my character and nature, not what you want me to do. Partner with who I am, “his Papa whispered. He breathed deep as his eyes opened a bit wider. “I am sorry Lord,” he uttered as he realized his mistake. In his desire to see the harvest, he was neglecting the full call of what his role currently was. How could he do his job to one hundred percent capacity and joy if he were constantly striving for the next thing, the bigger thing, and the end vision of where he believed God was taking this? He was partnering with what he assumed God was doing as opposed to simply partnering with who God is. “Forgive me Lord,” he said as he picked up his shovel and began digging again, radiant with joy that he got to partner with God for such important work as this, readying the soil for what God intended to do, tilling the ground.
I vividly remember a season in my life that I argued with God about the call he had placed on me. I begged him for a different call. I wanted to do great things, big things, and I wanted to see bountiful harvests. I wanted the call of David, to lead armies for the Lord; the call of Moses, to lead people to freedom; the call of the apostles, to plant ministries and churches, or the call of the prophets, to proclaim the word of the Lord all over the earth. And yet, the call I was given was to stay in my hometown and raise my cousin, to give my life for her, to fight for her rights and freedom, and to serve her as a mother would a child. The call he had given me seemed huge at first, but when it came down to what it entailed, it was pretty mundane. Love the one in front of you, care for the orphan, and love her unconditionally. Adoption looked huge, was so exciting, and I could see the incredible harvest that was stirring. Her life would be turned around; she would find freedom in Christ. I would be an incredible mother who loved her well every second of every day. Ha! Any parent knows that struggle. You love your children so much, and yet you yell, you fall short, and you make mistakes. This is the mess I found myself in after walking into my call. I was a hot mess, unable to parent the way I had dreamed, and deeply upset about the lack of harvest I was seeing. If anything, I felt like I was doing more damage than good some days, and yet, God showed up and spoke those same words to me. “Till the ground, and partner with who I am, not what you want to see.” Man, that wreaked me, and it still does. How often do we try to partner with what we believe God is doing instead of simply partnering with who He is? He will bring a harvest. He will, that I know. I may not see it in my lifetime though. I may not be the one to usher in that great harvest, but that is okay. My role is the same role Christ was given, and so is yours. You have the call of Christ on you, we all do: to love the Lord our God will all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, to make known the coming of Christ and all His glory, and to ready the ground for his arrival. Will we see a harvest? Maybe. But let us not strive for that alone. Let us strive to partner with the heart of the Father, to care for the lost, and to love those around us well. To live our lives in a way that brings honor and glory to God, and to till the ground we have been given. In this way, those who encounter us will know that He is the Lord, for He brings dead things to life.
“Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. The land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in sight of all who passed by. And they will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” (Ezekiel 36:33-36).
Kingdom Builders was a land of desolation, a literal trash pit, and in the middle stood a lone apple tree, proof that God would bring life to that dry ground. Springs of living water will flow, and the dead will be raised to life. All who come to that place can leave their burdens behind, cast to the foot of the cross, and be filled with new life. They will know that He is the Lord because He has spoken life over them, and life abundant. We are here to till the ground, put in the work, and prepare the soil of Pottstown for whatever the Lord has planned. We are building a garden to call lost souls’ home, people together in community, and a family of believers to their King. We partner with who God is, declaring his character and nature to those around us. We humbly put in the work, and He will bring forth the harvest He has planned in His perfect timing. Till the ground with me friends.