Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 10, 2020
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his ordinances were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. Psalm 18:20-24
My family and I recently made a significant shift in our domestic lives, selling our home in the heart of the city and moving to a farmhouse in the country on several acres of land. With this transition comes great hopes and dreams of agrarian tranquility, with chickens, goats, miniature donkeys, and a (hopefully) flourishing vegetable garden all on the near-term horizon. However, our most immediate project relates to the planting of dozens of trees, both to line our property and to create a small fruit orchard. As someone temperamentally inclined towards research, I have spent countless hours painstakingly exploring the ideal trees to plant, ones that are fast growing and disease resistant, others that provide beauty in the Spring and an abundance of fruit to be enjoyed year-round.
Having made my selection, I am now in the process of preparing to plant these trees. Checking pH levels in my soil and adjusting as needed. Identifying and purchasing the best organic fertilizers to ensure healthy root development. Ensuring they are adequately watered in the crucial first few weeks of their planting. And it is in this process of preparation and cultivation that I see a great parallel and analogy to the spiritual life.
In John 14:3, Jesus says these famous words, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” In a similar spirit, verse 19 of our Psalm today speaks to God’s work in bringing us out of darkness and into a place of freedom and peace. “He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” Our entry into the peace of God is always at his invitation and initiative, yet we still have a vital role to play!
The psalmist in Psalm 18 knows that the blessing they experience in life comes from the good hand of God. Yet nowhere do we see a passivity or inattentiveness to the daily cultivation of this blessing! No, they speak to their faithful keeping of the ways of God, studying his ways and resolving to walk in them, free of all guilt and shame. While every fruit tree by design is meant to bear fruit, there are countless ways the farmer can improve the conditions so that fruit bearing is all the more likely. Similarly, in your own life, while God alone sets you free and extends an invitation into divine life, you and I are daily able to make intentional choices that move our hearts and lives into greater and greater alignment with that intended end. In this way, God’s invitation and our effort are not contradictory, but are the intended means by which we are able to grow into the fullness of all that God longs for us to be.
“It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving” (1 Corinthians 3:7-8). (The Message)
Father, thank you for creating us to know you and to share in your abundant life. Give us the strength to order and align our lives around the perfect way of your kingdom, trusting that your ways are for our good and lead us into places of peace. Amen.
Do you daily tend to the soil of your life? What steps can you take to improve its health?
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God’s invitation and our effort are the intended means by which we are able to grow into the fullness of all that God longs for us to be. #wisdomhunters #fruit #truth #Jesus
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