George Bowers Sr.: Hard soils and hard souls
The spring planting season is in full swing. Gardens are being plowed, fields are being disked, potatoes are being dropped, and before we know it, we will be setting out tomatoes. What a wonderful gift God created when he made springtime and what a superb gift he gave us in the soil.
Many refer to this precious resource simply as dirt, but it is so much more than that! It is a wonderful and rich collection of minerals, nutrients, and organisms anxious to produce something beneficial for us and for its environment! If you haven’t thanked God recently for the soil, be sure to do so in your next prayer.
During my time as an Agriculture teacher, I had the privilege of coaching several soils judging teams for FFA contests. These competitions required students to identify various soil types and make recommendations for best management practices. It was interesting to travel around the state and examine how soils vary from the mountains to the beaches.
One problematic soil structure that competitors must identify and farmers must correct is a fragipan. This is a nearly rock hard layer of soil that can either develop naturally over time or as a result of heavy equipment repeatedly rolling over it. Eventually this fairly thin layer of compacted soil becomes a barrier not only for root growth, but also water percolation. As such, any moisture from rain sits on top of the pan and creates a perched water table relatively close to the surface. This situation prevents or severely inhibits crop growth and sometimes requires deep cultivation with a subsoiler to correct.
We can also develop fragipans in our souls. Because of a bad experience in a church or with someone who was supposed to represent Jesus, we can become hardened to God and his Holy Spirit. Continual abuse or mistreatment is akin to the effect of the heavy equipment upon the soil. Our pain may intensify and gradually solidify into what becomes an almost impenetrable barrier to anything God wants to say to us or do through us.
These heart barriers may also develop by repeatedly ignoring God when we know he wants us to turn from some sin or to take some particular action. Anytime we willingly refuse to obey him, we seal ourselves off and reject the truth, comfort, and grace he wants to infuse into our souls. As such, we fail to bear the good crops he has designed and created us to produce for his glory and others’ benefit.
Sometimes traumatic events dramatically blast open our hearts, but many times this condition usually gets worse if left untreated. Instead of yielding ourselves to God’s tender approaches, we can become cynical and calloused, refusing the great blessings he wants to both bestow on us and extend through us. The result is often a barren life that can do little more than find fault and wallow in misery.
Whenever you sense this hardness developing in your heart, ask God to break through it in some way that you might be open to his spirit again. Radically forgiving those who have hurt us can reopen pore spaces in our own souls that will allow his fruit producing water-of-life to penetrate. Repenting of and confessing our own sin will also do wonders to keep our hearts fertile, well drained, and productive.
If you suspect a fragipan exists within your soul or think you may be at risk, invite the master gardener to loosen you up that you may receive all he wants to give you so you can bear the abundant good fruit he desires for you to produce. Plowing deeply, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books, including his latest book of poetry, “Holy Verses.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at email@example.com.
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