WILDERNESS AND WASTELAND

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you ever attempted to walk through a wood that hadn’t been pruned, in which a clear pathway didn’t exist? If your answer is yes, I would like to ask you, how did that walk go? From my own previous experiences, I am guessing not very well.

You were probably quite frustrated by how many sticks (no matter how careful you were to avoid them) you stepped on, how many itchy bugs bites kept appearing on your skin, or the number of times you were forced to change direction because of fallen tree branches in front of you. I think you get my point.

However, if you have also taken a walk through a wood that had been pruned and had a clear pathway, you know just how different the experience can be. You probably enjoyed the quiet sound of nature, felt the warm rays of sunlight shining through the trees, and were deep in your thoughts as you walked effortlessly following the path that had been made.

I believe we are all aware that if a piece of land is not cultivated consistently and pruned constantly, it will never cease to return to being a wilderness and wasteland. It will always go back to its former state. There is one thing that I don’t believe we are all aware of, though… Our hearts can do the same if we are not obedient to Christ and allow Him to do His work of cultivating within us.

Our souls are in desperate need of being tended to.

Three of the Gospel writers record a story Jesus told known as the “Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8).  In each case, the sower spreads the same seed by casting it over the soil. One would expect the same results, but that’s not how the story goes. What effects the results you ask? The state of the soil.

An uncultivated heart cannot produce the enduring, plentiful, spiritual fruit that is possible and desirable. Our hearts can be so hardened that the Word “bounces off” us with no lasting impact.

The rocky soil Jesus speaks of is not just filled with little pebbles of stone, but the solid, obstinate table of rock buried several inches beneath what appears to be fertile soil. This represents the sin and hidden things in our minds and hearts that we never prune away, and they keep the seed from taking root. The third type of soil seems to accept truth, but never reaches maturity, because it also accepts the world with its riches, worries, and pleasures. God’s Word is “choked out” and is unable to produce fruit.

The good soil, however, is the heart that embraces the Word and holds fast to it, allowing it to take root, grow, and mature, and ultimately produce eternal and abundant fruit for the Kingdom of God. This heart is described as honest, good, and noble.

The Holy Spirit is the only one who can give us a “good heart” that will receive and bear the fruit of salvation. He gives us a heart of flesh instead of stone (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26). We are responsible (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to cultivate and keep a “noble and good heart” so that the Word of God continues to bear fruit pleasing to God.

To cultivate means to nourish the soul with the true, the good, and the beautiful. This must be done constantly if we wish our hearts to not be a wilderness and wasteland spiritually. You can be sure that when your heart is not being cultivated by Jesus, it is being filled with disorder and chaos by the enemy.

Ultimately, it’s a heart issue in the listener, not a failure of the sower or the seed that keeps someone (maybe even us) from bearing fruit. Matthew 6:20-21 says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Remember the Pharisees and Scribes Jesus spoke to in Matthew 15:8? He said Isaiah had correctly prophesied about them when He said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

Their hearts were not cultivated. Sure, they may have looked spiritual on the outside, but even an uncultivated and unpruned wood can look good at first glance. It’s when you step inside that you realize what a mess it is. They could say all the right things, but it didn’t matter because they weren’t genuine.

We have a sin problem that is turning us into a wilderness and wasteland by the minute. Our souls are in desperate need of being tended to. The ultimate goal we are after by means of the act of cultivation is to know God, glorify God, and enjoy God.

Nourish your soul with the true, the good, and the beautiful instead of giving in to the temporary and fleeting things of this world that will certainly pass away. Lord, let our hearts not be far from you.

“Disorder in the world implies that something is out of place. Usually, at the heart of all disorder you will find man in rebellion against God. It began in the garden of Eden and continues to this day.”  (A. W. Tozer)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you feel like your life is full of disorder?

= Do you desire to focus on the true, the good, and the beautiful?

= What are you going to do differently?

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