Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.
Here’s another verse that has been delightfully set to music in Japanese, though not totally verbatim in this case. (It may have been done from a different translation than the one I use.) Setting Scripture to music makes it very easy to remember, as opposed to rote memorization, and is a very good way to “hide it in our heart.” (Psalm 119:11) The message of this verse is that there is stuff we are to be doing as we seek God and wait for Him. The image presented will really click for anyone who’s been involved in agriculture, but that’s an increasingly small percentage of the population, at least in countries like the US and Japan. Ground that hasn’t been plowed can often get a hard crust on it, and seeds sown on it directly just lie there for the birds to eat. Seeds the birds aren’t interested in, like weeds, sometimes do very well! For the ground to welcome desirable seeds, it has to be broken up, or plowed. That can be hard work! These days we use machinery to do it, for the most part, but that has been a very recent development. There are places in the world today that literally use pointed sticks to poke holes in the ground for planting seeds, and hand labor has been the rule for most of history. The important thing then becomes, what seed to plant. Since this is obviously an allegory for the human soul, we need to do all we can to avoid planting envy, anger, pride, and a host of other undesirables. Rather, we are told to plant righteousness. That is defined most simply as doing the right thing. It’s amazing how often we violate our own conscience! If we pursue the idea of “the right thing,” we quickly come to the idea of doing whatever God has told us. Some people claim they’ve never heard God, but the Bible is widely available and we have a very high level of literacy. Ignorance is no excuse! The good news is that if we sow righteousness, we get to reap unfailing love, and who doesn’t want that? It’s interesting to realize that whereas the implication is that we reap God’s unfailing love, it is also true that the more we walk in what God has said to us, the more we are able to love others unconditionally ourselves. We become channels of unfailing love! The thing is, on our own we have great difficulty doing the right thing with any consistency, so that’s why we need to seek the Lord, to receive His righteousness. Thankfully, we have a marvelous promise that has been proved true countless times: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13) When we come to Him in humility and truth, He indeed showers righteousness on us.
This year we had a real garden for the first time since settling in Omura, and it’s been very educational. We were eating eggplant from it right up to the end of November, and we still have some late-sprouting beets that look promising. That said, we still have a lot of gravel to get out of the soil, and it will need to be well plowed again before spring planting season. This year has certainly taught me about weeds! As a pastor, I see spiritual weeds in the lives of essentially everyone. Those are all the things that distract us from the righteousness that God intends and provides for us. I’ve learned that the longer you wait to deal with a weed, the harder it is to get out, and that applies both in horticulture and spiritually. I need to ask the Holy Spirit to help me recognize weeds in my own heart and get rid of them promptly, so that I may bear the abundant fruit that God intends for His glory. (John 15:5, 8)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the joy of eating produce from our own garden. May I indeed bear abundantly for You, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!