“Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns.” Jeremiah 4:3
I’m going through a season of breaking in my life. It happens often. Each of these seasons have looked a bit different, but three things remain constant:
- It’s always uncomfortable. (That’s actually a bit of an understatement. Unpleasant, distressing, and downright painful is probably a more accurate description.)
- My attitude fluctuates violently between two poles: “Praise to Thee” and “Woe is me!“ I’d like to think I’m getting better in this department, but let’s be real: change and growth and suffering suck. I like the end result but the process is… yuck.
- Jesus is so faithful and patient. In every season like this, He tenderly corrects, instructs, guides, comforts, and nourishes my weary soul. Even (and especially) when I’m angry with Him for allowing things to happen.
Miracle upon miracle, growth happens in these seasons, and I walk out a little different, looking a little more like Jesus. Not because of anything I did; I can assure you that half the time I end up sulking and moping and resisting His voice like a petulant child.
Oh, for grace, and His Spirit that does that work within when I just give in and surrender myself to His ways.
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And I’m in that place again. Is anyone else out there walking in this same stretch of desert with me?
At the beginning of the year, like most years, His Spirit called my attention to one verse. Each year, there’s usually a grounding scripture that the Lord sets my heart on and draws me back to over and over again- like an anthem as I walk through life’s little conundrums from January to December that brings my focus back to one central truth that I’m supposed to embrace.
(“Supposed to” being the operative phrase. I’m good at internalizing scripture, but often not-so-good at the living-it-out-in-the-moment part. We’re all a work in progress, right?)
This year, I heard quite clearly, “Break up your fallow ground.” I’m familiar with this verse from Jeremiah, but there was a different kind of urgency and meaning to it as the Lord wrote it into the inner recesses of my heart in January.
“Break up your fallow ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your hearts.” Jer. 4:3-4
“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12
That word break caught my attention and set off little sirens in my head. Inwardly, I groaned, because while the last 2 years have had seasons of great joy (most notably, I met my husband, and well, got married), they’ve also come with great groanings.
And I knew in that moment, He was telling me that I needed to prepare my heart for more. To bend and to change and, frankly, to break.
That’s what breaking up your fallow ground is. It’s pounding the crap out of hard soil and making it soft again. It’s ripping weeds out by the roots. It’s forcibly removing anything from the ground that’s not supposed to be there. Does that sound easy or pleasant to you? Yeah, me neither.
Honestly, it’s freaking terrifying and lately I feel fragile.
But being broken isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. The thing about breaking up fallow ground is that it has purpose. Broken ground can be tilled so that seeds can be planted. Softened soil yields a thriving harvest.
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Being broken is the first step to thriving. It’s not a pleasant step. There’s work involved. There’s examination and scrutiny and the removal of things that are deeply rooted and have become part of us, but have no business being there.
Brokenness is a sign that there’s still life to be cultivated. The very worst thing that could happen to you is for God to leave you exactly as you are. No, dear one, stagnation is the very worst thing that can happen to a heart.
Things that stagnate are useless- water, soil, air. Hearts that stand still grow hard and cold… and they die. It’s true biologically and spiritually. Brokenness may hurt, but death is a pretty lousy (not to mention permanent) alternative.
Jesus called us to life, and life abundant. So, every day I’m trying to settle into the brokenness and take a critical look within and ask as David did, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps 139:23-24). Maybe you’re praying the same. I hope you are.
Let’s embrace being broken, for in breaking we rise again- rebuilt, renewed, and redeemed.