“Ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God.” Hebrews 6:7
Today begins a new year, shining and full of promise and hope. Like a blank page, this year has endless possibilities for us – new stories to write, new songs to pen, new images to draw. Like a kid on the first day of a new school year, I love fresh and new beginnings.
I always look for a Scripture on New Year’s Day that is hopeful and ripe with expectation, so when the Lord brought our key passage to my attention, I wondered what He was saying to me. It seemed an odd verse to start the new year – but as I studied the words and prayed, I began to see that this is indeed a word of hope and promise.
For some of us, this New Year’s Day signals a grateful end to the old year – a year marked with struggle, disappointment, pain, sorrow, hardship – I’m sure you could add to the list from your own experiences in the past year or beyond. Like many others, I have been through a long season of storms and turmoil – and I am ready for it all to end. That is where this verse speaks to me and two words stand out – “rain” and “tilled.”
Do you feel as though you have been standing out in the rain-wet and miserable? Do you feel as if life has “plowed” you over? Please hear these words from God – the rain and the tilling are meant to make your life and mine fruitful – “to bring forth vegetation.”
God means for us to drink in the rain that falls on us, just as Jesus declared “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Jesus offers us Living Water for our thirsty souls, and He has said those who receive it will be conduits of this life-giving water – “streams of living water will flow from within him” (v. 38).
If you know anything about farming, you know that the farmer plows the field to prepare the soil for planting; sharp blades and tines dig deep into the fallow ground. This is what I wrote in my prayer journal this morning: “Lord, I feel like I have been through a long tilling season – and sharp instruments have cut through my life. But I think you have been plowing to sever the roots of plants that are not fruitful and break up clods that make it difficult to sow seeds in my heart.” Take comfort in knowing that the plowing doesn’t go on and on. The land is tilled only to prepare for planting. Hear the words of Isaiah 28:24-25 – “When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has levered the surface does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field?” Plowing and tilling doesn’t go on forever; eventually the seed is sown for a fruitful harvest. Fruit that will bless others as well as bless you and me. Its God’s own promise, there in our key verse: The fruitful ground “receives a blessing from God.”
My friend, if you have endured difficulties in the past year, take heart – God has prepared you that He might bless you and bless others through you. Nothing He does or allows is ever without purpose, even the hard things. Especially the hard things.
Holy Father, I look ahead into this new year with hope in my heart, taking Paul’s words as my own: “one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” (Philippians 3:13-14a). Amen.