8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
We recently moved to a much more rural (or as I would prefer to call it- country) area. Directly across from our home is a corn field. In fact, while driving around in this area, I have seen many corn fields. The vast majority of the corn in these fields seems to be doing just fine to my untrained eye.
However, the other day, I noticed something odd. On the edges of these fields there was corn growing that seemed to not quite be in the fields themselves. The soil around these areas seems different than the soil where the majority of the corn was growing. Why does this matter, you ask? Because the corn plants that were a little out of the field looked healthy enough. But, the plants were much smaller and it was obvious that they would not produce as much corn as the ones who were in the normal field.
What was the difference? Apparently the soil around the smaller plants was good soil. If it wasn't good soil, it wouldn't grow, right? I'm no farmer, but I asked the Lord to explain this to me and the phrase he brought to my heart in reference to the smaller plants was this: fallow ground.
Immediately, I remembered a part of this scripture:
Hosea 10:12King James Version (KJV)
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
What is fallow ground?
In the Hebrew in this passage it means: tillable or untilled or fallow ground.
In Websters dictionary's first definition it means: cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle in the growing season.
This is tillable land. It is land that could be used for crop growth. But, for one reason or another, it was not tilled. So, the soil was not broken up. It is hard and unyielding. It is amazing that any seed took root there at all.
The farmer starts tilling the land, before the crops are planted. This breaks up the hard surface, removes rocks, kills insects and parasites, etc. He then goes behind that with fertilizer. Where we live, that means spreading manure mixed in water over the plowed area. (I don't have to tell you how wonderful the smell is when the wind blows over that field towards our home at that time.)
He then lets it soak in for a couple of weeks. Afterwards, he re-tills and fertilizes it again. Then, he makes his rows and plants his seeds.
In the case of the corn growing in this fallow ground, apparently the seed must have fallen in a crack, or a small hole. Since the soil below the hard surface was good soil, it took root. But, the rains and farmers watering doesn't soak into the fallow ground as well as the plowed up ground. The plant does grow. But, at a slower place, to a shorter height, and it will yield a smaller crop.
To the soil (if you will allow me a little poetic license here), the plowing, the fertilizing, and the re-plowing are not pleasant experiences. It's not fun to be tossed and turned, broken and beaten, and (worst of all) "messed on." But, the process is a necessary one if the soon planted seed is to grow and give a maximum yield.
The fallow soil doesn't endure these things. It is, in a sense, shielded by it's hard surface. It is isolated and somewhat lonely- being apart from the tilled ground. But, without enduring the tilling process, the seed that it gains isn't able to grow as well. Growing at all, in fact, is a fight for survival. Many of these seeds do die. But, some of them grow and have a reduced yield.
Scripture tells us to:
1 Peter 4:12-13King James Version (KJV)
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
James 1:3-4King James Version (KJV)
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Many of us are like the fallow ground. We are good ground. We want to live for God. We want to bear fruit for our Lord. But, we don't allow ourselves to be fully tilled and fertilized so that his seed can grow unhindered.
But, unlike earthly ground, the ground of our hearts has a choice. It's not fun to be messed on by others. It's tough when our hearts are broken by the tilling of problems in this life.
We can choose to allow God to take us through the hard times- to be broken and contrite before him. We can allow ourselves to be dumped on and accept our suffering, for we know we will one day bear much fruit for our Lord. Our trials can either make us better, or bitter. If we become bitter, we become hard. If we become bitter, it's hard for the water of God's word to seep through our crusty ground and water the seeds he's planted in us.
I can't speak for you, but I'm tired of struggling to grow. I'm worn out by fighting the circumstances God has allowed in my life to allow his seed to bear a hundred fold. I'm not satisfied with the thirtyfold, or even the sixtyfold production in my life.
I want my ground broken and tilled and well fertilized. That way, the water and nutrients he provides will sink deep down within me and help his seed to grow. I want to give my Lord maximum yield.
How about you?
There's no guarantee that his seed will grow if our heart is hard and un-tilled. It may, but are you really satisfied with returning so little to him who gave so much for us?