In our non-agrarian society, perhaps the notion of cultivating has been lost to us. We far prefer the easy and instantaneous over the diligence of discipline over time. Whether we realize it or not, we are cultivating something. What are we sowing in our hearts, minds and relationships? Are we cultivating love and righteousness or sin and unbelief?
Hosea tells the nation of Israel, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts for now is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you. But you have cultivated wickedness and a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies. (10:12-13)”
Cultivation begins with breaking up fallow ground. If rain falls on hard soil, it runs off instead of seeping in. In our lives, plowing up the hard ground may be a change in habits or removing something that is not producing life in us. Once the soil is made ready, seeds are planted, watered and God causes growth over time. Before any sprouts appear, a period of waiting ensues. The ground appears barren like nothing is happening. Unseen to us, the seed is sprouting. In a moment, it rises above the soil to become visible. Some seeds grow deep roots long before anything above ground flourishes.
At times, God prompts us to make changes, yet weeks, months or years pass before we see the spout of new life emerge. We cannot allow slow growth to dishearten us. Plato stated, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress no matter how small.”
We aren’t to live for ourselves but God. Our existence is not merely picking ripe fruit to enjoy but doing the hard work of planting the seeds and cultivating so others may partake in a thriving crop.