Six Month Checkup

August vegetable garden

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 (Fallow ground – left uncultivated and unproductive)

“Hey, Bill— Didn’t you say six months ago that you were going to retire and break up your fallow ground? How’s it going on that?

Well, it depends. You can see from this photo from earlier this week, that the physical break up, rebuild, renovate of the vegetable garden’s fallow ground has stayed on hold through these six months. Now, it’s too hot these days to get started with a good spray of Roundup and have it be effective. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) This garden hopefully, will rise to the top of the list in the Fall.

But, on the flower garden side of things, the Lord has blessed us with much beauty. Much fallow ground was broken up. I’ve posted a couple of photos on blog posts, and several more on Facebook. The one below is the view from our bedroom window.

On other things, I haven’t done as much writing as I had planned (but, I have done more than I was doing, so that’s progress.) My plans to spend more time with my guitar and banjo are still in their cases, so to speak—but they’re still on the list.

I’ve discovered that what happens to impede progress—is life. Like always, there are planned and unplanned things that come up that divert attention from the to-do list of items mentioned above. Also, now that I’m a bit older, I’ve discovered that just resting and staying out of the heat are needful, too.

But, the fallow ground in the above verse from Hosea isn’t referring to these physical things I’ve mentioned (although, I would hope writing and music could fit in with it). The verse is talking about the more important aspects of life—sowing righteousness, reaping love, and seeking the Lord. I’ve been working on those, too.

I won’t mention specifics. But, there have been successes and wonderful blessings (all by the grace of God), and utter failures of commission and omission (all by the humanity of Bill). I don’t plan to quit trying, but I do get discouraged at times. Then, the Lord sends me a message, like He did through our Pastor the other night. In His preface to our church conference, he talked a bit about Galatians 6:9—
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
So, with the Lord’s help, I won’t faint.

Bedroom window view

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful!

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful! (Facebook folks, click on the link to see the entire post)

wheat and tares phlox 2

Here’s some fallow ground that needed breaking up in late winter. Looks like I could just go in and turn over everything and get ready for Spring. But if you look closely you see some things that aren’t weeds. So I had to be careful breaking  up this fallow ground.

This reminded me of Jesus’ Kingdom parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). There was a field a man planted with good seed (wheat) and at night an enemy came and planted bad seed (tares) in the field. When the field hands saw it (later, when both had grown enough to recognize) they asked the owner if he wanted them to pull the tares up. The owner’s reply was to wait, since pulling up the tares may also pull up the wheat.

While, I had to be careful what to pull up, and pulling some of the weeds actually unrooted a good plant, it was clear enough I could pull the weeds and leave the plants. I’ll leave it to you to study more on Jesus’ parable since it goes deeper than good plants and bad plants. But, I’ll leave a warning that we be careful when breaking up fallow ground – whether physical, spiritual, or relationships. Be sure to look closely for the good and not take it away with the bad.

It’s summer now, and here are the white phlox that were hiding in the weeds.

Phlox in bloom

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – Sometimes it’s OK

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(Fallow Ground – untended and unfruitful)
These Easter Lilies, planted last year, didn’t even get fertilizer this season, but they apparently didn’t mind. Sometimes things go well in spite of our neglect. But, we can’t take that for granted!
Hosea 10:12 needs to be in our mind all the time. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground; For it is time to seek the Lord til he comes and rains righteousness upon you.”

 

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – Look Back

Early garden shot

(Fallow ground – ground left unplowed and unfruitful)
Here’s a view of my garden from a few years ago. When I looked back on how things were and considered how it looks now, it was easy to see the goal behind breaking up my garden’s fallow ground. Looking back can help us focus.

I started my engineering career as a Cooperative Student working at Savannah Electric. (Meaning I went to school for a quarter and then worked for a quarter, then went to school, etc. for the first 3 years at Tech.) My job for much of that time was designing service to new residences. Typically, it was only installing a pole or two with a transformer and a service to the mobile home or house.

That was no big deal for the experienced engineers in the office, but it was exciting to me. Something new – and I had the chance to make a difference. I even would take Sharon out to the jobs to show her the finished products. Ah, the enthusiasm of being new to something wonderful.

Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus (Revelation Ch 2) reminded them of that. He told them to return to the enthusiasm of being new to something wonderful. After commending them for their works, toil and patience, he added:
“But, I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

Sounds to me that He’s telling them (and us) to look back, and then break up some spiritual fallow ground.

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – The Sower

Planters on porch 3

 

Here’s a bit of “fallow ground” I’ve broken up. This one comes under “things I never got around to”. It’s one of Sharon’s visions she’s had for awhile: “I think it would be great to put some planters on the back porch.” As always, her vision was clear and I was slow getting there. But now, it’s done.
As I mentioned previously, I’ve made “Break up your fallow ground” the theme of my retirement. Some of that relates to my physical garden and flowers. But, the more important part considers the things of God.
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.” Hosea 10:12
Fallow ground is soil left untended that will eventually become unfruitful. It can be left that way for a purpose, like God’s command to the Israelites to let their land rest every seventh year. But, it also may become fallow through neglect or the inability to tend it (for various reasons). Breaking up physical fallow ground means removing trees and stumps, plowing it up, turning it over, adding fertilizer, watering it, and doing whatever a specific plot of ground may need to  become fruitful.
Those steps are clear for the physical garden, but, what about the things of God, the spiritual things? That’s simple to summarize – we start with the focus Jesus gave us – Love your God and Love your neighbor. But, while simple to state, teaching and expanding on what God’s Word says about the why’s and how’s of those points has been every sincere minister’s entire career (and continues to be.) So, obviously, I won’t be explaining everything here. But, I will add a few thoughts that started from a recent sermon by our Associate Pastor on the Sower. Those thoughts, along with the need to rebuild my physical garden, took me to my decision for my retirement theme.
In the parable of the Sower, Jesus spoke of different types of soil – one being the good soil, which He explained to the disciples represented a person’s heart that is ready to receive the seeds being sown (the Word of God) and become fruitful. The Lord is the one who exchanges our heart of stone for a heart of flesh and puts His Spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:26-27). God opens that heart of flesh to hear His Word. (Acts 16:14 – referring to Lydia – “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”) As God’s children, we can rejoice that He has made our hearts the “good soil.”
Yet, even good soil can become fallow and unfruitful. From Hosea 10:12, we see who God gives the responsibility to keep it fruitful—He commands us to work at that. From the verse, we conclude that we can harden our heart against obedience and mercy. (“Hardening our heart” is a great term for allowing it to lie fallow.) We can overlook, or ignore, that we are called to be fruitful. We can neglect the things of God (fail to seek Him.)
Just like breaking up physically fallow ground requires work, so does breaking up spiritual ground. As the verse says, we should sow, reap, break up and seek. (Good action verbs we writers are always told to use.) And, two things (among many) I’ve discovered in this first 4 months of retirement—there is fallow ground in most areas of my life, and you can’t get all those needed actions done at once. It’s a process, and sometimes a long process.
I understand retirement was a major change in my life that gave me time that many don’t have to work on this process. But, no matter what situation you’re in, you have time to begin by seeking the Lord, in the seed sown by the Sower—In God’s Holy Word. “Break up your fallow ground.” says the Lord.

Break up your fallow ground – It’s Spring! (Fallow – idle and unproductive)

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It’s officially Spring here in South Georgia. It doesn’t matter what the date is, spring doesn’t truly begin until the pecan trees start to bud out. They have done that, as you see, so I made it to the local nurseries to get some flowers to start planting. Breaking up your fallow ground is just a step in the process. Something should be planted that will make the soil productive and fruitful again.

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“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

As you’ll see, I’ll be working on the content of this blog (and considering starting a new blog) for Break Up Your Fallow Ground. The garden part will come as I do tasks in the garden. But, what do I want to say about other areas in life where I need to, and am trying to, break up my fallow ground? And, do I always connect it with what I’ve written about the garden – like this one, “it’s Spring”? I guess that’s another part of the process of breaking up fallow ground – what, where, when, and how; and then, what do you plant. The verse above seems a good foundation.

 

 

The Towers Crossed, It’s a New Year, And God is In His Heaven

Radio Tower

If you’ve driven Interstate 16 in Georgia between Savannah and Macon (on the way to Atlanta), you know the signs of civilization are sparse in some sections. You should have seen it forty plus years ago. Back then, it was so sparse you had to check your gauge before heading out because the gas stations were nearly non-existent.

Back then, I attended Georgia Tech in Atlanta. I drove the highway most Sunday nights because I went home every weekend I could, in order to see my future wife, Sharon. (We had already decided she was my future wife and me her future husband, we just hadn’t told anyone.) Sunday night was the sad time of the weekend, when I left her and headed back to Atlanta.

It was a lonesome drive and I spent much of the time trying to find decent radio stations to listen to for a few minutes before they faded away. But, as I neared Macon, I could always pick up WMAC—a good radio station with a strong signal that stayed with me for about an hour.

Also, as I neared Macon, (Mile Marker 9 on I-16 , measured from Macon) there were two radio towers off to the left. I watched each time, and near the spot where I passed the mile marker, the towers lined up and looked like one tower for a split second. As I continued, they would start to visually separate, and then over a hill and around a bend they were out of sight.

Although I never measured it, I took the point where they looked like one tower as the middle point of the journey. On the Savannah side I was leaving Sharon, and on the Macon side I was going to school. My thoughts would go to what paper was due or which test was coming up. But, of course, Sharon and the big picture of the two of us eventually being together remained uppermost in my mind.

It’s a new year. At midnight, New Year’s Eve, two towers in our personal journey appeared to be one for a split second, but they’re already farther apart and will continue to separate. We may or may not feel we are leaving something behind, but, now we should focus on what we need to do as we go forward. And, of course, the Lord and the big picture of us eventually being together with Him in Heaven should remain uppermost in our mind.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” Revelation 21:4