Isaiah 28:23-26 taken from the NLT bible says, “Listen to me; listen as I plead! Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting it? Does he not finally plant his seeds for dill, cumin, wheat, barley and spelt, each in its own section of his land? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.
As far as I can remember, our house was always adorned with flowers. Why and when my mother began to plant is unknown to me. But the fact is that in a matter of time, there were flowers everywhere. She grew baby oranges, miniature peppers, all kinds of herbs that she would use for cooking her meals and flowers that would bloom throughout the year in accordance with the seasons.
As my siblings and I began to move out and with more space to plant, in the three bedroom Project apartment, my mother grew her garden. From time to time, she would give me what she called baby roots for my own planting. But, each and every time, they would die at my hands. I always attributed this to not having a green thumb. But in retrospect, it was really due to not listening to her instructions.
With my mother’s entry to the nursing home, and the need to downsize in the interest of space, and with the best intention to care for the plant, I decided to take one to my home. Yes one of the many plants that my mother had tenderly groomed throughout the years. It did well for a few months. My mom gave me instructions for the care of my plant. Water it weekly, but don’t overdo it she said. Put it where it gets light from the sun but don’t expose it at length. Oh and talk to it. Needless to say, that I did not follow all of my mother’s advice to the letter so in a matter of months, my plant began to whither. Oh I watered the plant when ever I remembered and set it on a stand in a corner of my living room. Why, I even talked to it a few times. Yes I did. But it was to no avail.
In an attempt to rescue my plant, I put it out on what I thought was a beautiful sunny day. I went about my business. Remember I said the day was sunny. But in all reality, it was scorching hot and you can guess the rest. Yes the plant was totally burnt. Not to mention, that the day went from sunny to torrential rain falls and that was the end of my plant as it pertains to the original condition when it first came to reside in my home. No I have not gotten rid of my plant. I am working hard at restoring it and hopefully its leaves will regain their glow.
But what, you may be thinking does all this talk of plants have to do with Isaiah twenty-eight? Well if you bear with me, I’ll tell you.
While we here in the United states don’t do much farming, back in the days of Isaiah, it was sort of speak, the law of the land. If you didn’t plant you would not reap. But the planting although important, was not as significant as the specifics involved in farming. The farmer had to take special care when planting his seeds, nurture and take all the necessary precautions if, he had hopes of bringing in the harvest of his labor.
In the bible commentary we read that “the farmer used special tools to plant and harvest tender herbs so as not destroy them”. “That he would take into account how fragile they were”. Depending on the seed he was planting, certain care would be applied. Perhaps the farmer, as my mother, took time to talk to the seeds he had planted or, unlike myself, took time to listen attentively and follow the instructions given him by the farmer before him. Who knows? In any event, one thing was certain, if the farmer was to see a harvest, special care, consideration, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and yes love had to be applied in order to bring forth that harvest. Otherwise, there would be no food that year.
Fortunately for me, my mother’s plant though fragile, is in the stages of recovery. I have since realized that I must take a different approach. Simply bringing a plant into the home and placing it on a mantel is not going to do the job. (The same holds true for the bible. Setting it on the mantle and beautifully display it for all to see, will not bring forth the contents of its pages or adorn our hearts with the truth it contains, if it is never opened, read and applied.) We must gently work at restoring the plant to as close to its original state as possible. Through care, patience and nurturing, we must learn how to care for the plant if it is to bring us joy, beautify the home and yes be there to gently remind us of the original purpose for bringing home a plant. In my case, my thought was for it to serve as a reminder of my mother for as long as I can preserve its life. Since then, I have read up on plants, become informed, learned that my plant does well with limited exposure to light and that a little water once a week will suffice. Doing otherwise, would defeat the purpose and I would do well to turn it over to a caring hand. After all, how would you like to live in an environment without love, nurturing, water and sun light?
That is what God requires for and from us. Just as He provides us with the basic care and essentials of life, so he expects us to do likewise. In his infinite wisdom, he left us his word which if applied, will guide us through the many hurdles of life.
Isaiah uses the farmer as an example. We can see from this scripture that God gave this farmer the understanding and wisdom to plant his seeds, use the proper tools and patiently wait for his harvest. However, what we must read between the lines, concerns the aspect of listening which the Lord introduces early on in the scripture. Something, I’m sorry to say, I did not do in my personal experience with my already blooming plant. I failed to listen, follow instructions and apply the knowledge that my mother shared as the experienced planter. Had I done so, today I would not be nurturing my dead plant back to life.
But don’t dismay, there is time and you as well as I can be encouraged. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 advices that there is a season to everything and a time to every purpose under the sun.
So my friend, I ask you today, what is your Season? Are you planting, waiting for your harvest, nurturing a relationship, contemplating a divorce, looking for a fresh start or simply unsure of your future? Whatever the situation, look to the Lord and know that you are on his mind. He has all the tools we will ever need. God’s only pre-requisite is that we lend an ear to listen and follow his instructions. For in so doing, we will reap the rewards.
The Lord so desires that we deal kindly, in brotherly love towards one another. So much so, that the Apostle Paul provides us with the formula for love in great detail. He gently reminds us that “Love is patient, kind, not envious, or boastful. It isn’t proud or rude. It isn’t self seeking. Love is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and preserves. Love never fails.
So to the eyes that may stumbles upon these lines, know that it is not by chance. The God of creation is intentional and does not leave anything to chance. So, as I come to the end of this trail, allow me to summarize what I will call formulas for you.
Listen to the encouraging words of Isaiah and learn to apply yourself to listening.
Give yourself the opportunity to receive instruction and learn to take advice so wisely stated in God’s word.
Avoid at all cost the pitfalls made by the author of these lines.
Look to First Corinthians for the more acceptable way and see how much better off you will be when you apply yourself to the tool of listening
This is your season…