heart-planting series//stir the ground

it’s called “heart-planting” because it’s where we’ll be working and what we’ll be doing; 
planting our faith deep in our hearts.

this series came to me as i began googling exactly how to successfully grow a garden.  you see, i’m a terrible gardener.  i have about three or four little containers on my deck, and on a good streak i can harvest a small salad from them, but overall, my garden is nothing more than evidence that i am good at wasting soil, time and sunshine.  so as i googled, all i could find was the obvious; plant your seeds, keep them watered, transfer to the sun or away from it, prune, and fertilize.  i already knew all this!  i just don’t do it well.  

our faith is just like this.  it must be planted, tended and grown.  it must have sources of nourishment and energy.  it must be pruned and waited on.  

so today we begin the series by 
breaking some heart ground and planting a few seeds.

as with true soil and seeds, there is a relationship that must be achieved in order for growth to happen.  this is represented well in Jesus’ parable of the sower.  
In Matthew 13:3-8 Jesus talks about the farmer who scatters seeds.  some fall in shallow soil and some fall into “good” soil.  both yield plants, but only one lasts.

our hearts are similar to this soil.  in some areas we have good soil, ready for special things to be planted and grown there.  we love easily and try new things.  we trust and have little fear or worry.  but in other areas we have barren land, incapable of receiving or producing a harvest.  we cling to what power we have and are often acting defensively.  

though both hearts can accept faith, one will do so more effectively.  
we must understand the state of our heart and prepare it for planting 

1.  stir any heart-ground that is hard or dry.  
if you simply scatter seeds onto dried clay, you can know pretty well that you will not produce much of anything.  the same is done with the hard parts of our hearts.  this heart-ground must be broken and stirred, nurtured a bit, and then it can receive seeds.  

our hearts become hard for many reasons; pain, betrayal, fear, worry, choosing not to forgive, a need for control, pride, bitterness, anger, etc..  anything that is not of God creates a hard heart.  so stir it up and break it apart.  prepare it for something different.  much of the faith walk includes changing the existing state of our lives.  just as we moisten dry soil we nourish our heart with new truths.  we cannot live in sin as we walk with God, and we cannot plant faith in a proud heart.  if you are not sure of what is there, pray that God reveals it to you.  Psalm 139:23-24 is a great place to start for this:

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

2.  dig in and make a place for seeds of faith
usual practices of planting including preparing a place for the seed.  you take the soil that is there, whether ready or revitalized, and you press the seed about a third of the way in.  you make room for it.  

our hearts are not very large in the physical form, but there is always room for something more.  if we can make room for pain, we can make room for love.  if we can make room for bitterness, we can make room for joy.  as our hearts are now, we could just try something new, but we can bet it will not last.  we must make room for it, and in the action of heart-planting, that looks like many things:

  • becoming open to new thoughts
  • removing negative patterns
  • trying new actions
  • forgiving someone
  • forgiving yourself

when we move around the layout of our heart, and make room for our faith, we can know that we are accepting it into good soil.  we can remove the wasteful moments or thoughts and make time for Bible study, a new service opportunity, time with our spouse and more time with God. 

3.  plant your faith deeply.  
as with the parable of the sower, seeds planted in the shallow soil will not last long, if they even grow at all.  they may sprout, but they will not prevail.  deep roots are strong, and are well-nourished.  they are life-giving.  what is good for the plant is what is deep in the soil.  the most beautiful full-bloomed flower can be plopped into a pile of sand, and it may look pretty for a moment, but soon enough it's superficial status will shine.

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians he mentions deep roots of faith.  remember that this man used to persecute Christians and was in the act of hunting them down when Jesus came to him.  he knows how rooted in faith you must be to stay your course.

"so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."  Ephesians 3:17-18

when we take the time to plant deeply, our faith is less likely to be disturbed.  we will experience trials as a Christian and when we have a rooted belief in Jesus' work on the cross, we can know that we are covered through any trying moment.  but when faith seeds are simply scattered on a heart on a good day, the storms of life will likely blow them away.

so today i challenge you to consider the state of your heart:

do you have a hard heart, with poor soil?

have you actually made room for your faith?  

is your faith rooted deeply?

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