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March 6, 2021

Dale Smart column — Have you been plowed?

By Dale Smart

I was reading in my devotion book one morning recently, and I was struck by the word “plow.” It just seemed true to what has happened to us over this past year of 2020, with the virus, the anxiousness, the political unrest, etc. But on closer examination, it may not be a bad thing even though it’s unpleasant.

This particular devotion was taken from Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning & Evening” from the Jan. 11 morning entry built around Luke 8:13 “they have no root.” Of course this is taken from the foundational parable of the sower, referring to the rocky ground beneath. As so, it appears that that we, along with our republic, have been severely rocked over the past year, especially recently, and may be quite rocky for some time? The devotion continues — “Good growth takes place upwards and downwards at the same time. If my heart remains unsoftened & unfertilized by grace, the good seed may germinate for a season, but it must ultimately wither for it cannot flourish on a rocky, unbroken, unsanctified heart.” He continues: “If my mind remains as stubbornly impenitent as it was by nature, the sun of trial will scorch, my hard heart will help to cast the heat the more terribly upon the poorly covered seed, my religion will soon die, and my despair will be terrible: therefore, O heavenly sower, plow me first, and then cast the truth into me, and let me yield a bounteous harvest for you.”

And so it is that this plowing may not be a bad thing! Consider yourself, your being, your very soul, as a field that has been scraped and plowed over — like it has. If nothing else, it’s taken us out of our comfort zone: made us rearrange our thoughts, priorities and attitudes. There was even a reference to Jonah in this devotion, where in chapter 4, after Jonah has done everything God has asked him to do (however grudgingly), God provides a vine for him to give him shade in the desert, and then caused it to die just as quickly. The story ends with God appealing to Jonah that he has more pity for the plant that has just died than for the thousands of Ninevites that he had caused to repent — (who are made in God’s image). This concept of racism was brought to the forefront during this year of turmoil. I consider if racism (or some other “ism”) exists in the hardness of my heart and consider the hypocrisy that goes with it?

Maybe now that we have been plowed over, we are ready to receive the word of truth that can save our soul: Reflect on a couple of quotes from “Smith Wigglesworth — Apostle of Faith” from chapter X: “If you will dare to trust this wonderful Lord of life, you will find in him everything you need. Believers are strong only as the word of God abides in them. The word of God is spirit and life to those who receive it in simple faith, and it is a vivifier of all that own its sway.”

Perhaps we are now ready for that indwelling seed to be planted into our hearts, and maybe God is not done plowing? It’s not for us to say. Psalm 33:14 says “From the place of his dwelling he looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually.” I pray that God is looking down on us to show himself strong on our behalf, but much of that is up to us. I’ll end with the ending of that same Psalm, vs. 22 “Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in you.”

Dale Smart lives in Salisbury. Contact him dsmartd@gmail.com .

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