by Daniel Bramlett
I have a new appreciation for the farmer. I’ve always loved the idea of farming, but never had the
opportunity to really try my hand. That is, until I planted a watermelon patch. Why in the world I
thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Everyone told me it was a super hard crop, so I knew it
would be work going in. But I’ve always loved hard work. That didn’t scare me at all. I knew deer would
be a problem, so we built a tall electric fence. I did not know that coyotes had a trained palate when it
came to watermelons. I also did not know we were walking into the hottest, driest summer we’d had in
a while. All that said, I walked into this summer pridefully thinking, “We’ve got this watermelon thing!”
I’m on my knees now with a full understanding that I am not the farmer. God is.
We lose perspective of these things in today’s culture. We can walk into a store and buy a watermelon
without any thought as to who raised it, how often it was rained on, the lengths it took to protect it
from animals, the soil type required to raise it…not to mention all of the prep work that took place
before the seed ever went into the ground. We think vegetables cost a lot of money. I don’t know about
market value, but I can tell you if I had a dollar for every time I’ve handled each melon, I’d get a lot more
than what they are valued at now! The man with his hands in the dirt has a whole new understanding of
what it takes to work for his food.
Jesus tells a lot of stories about farmers and dirt. If He were in present day South Arkansas, His parables
would have included more about chickens and pine trees. But His audience was primarily in the dirt.
They understood Him when He said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the
Kingdom of God.” It made perfect sense to them when Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the
ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” It blew their minds when He took
five loaves of bread and made thousands. That was not the way that worked!
One of my favorite dirt stories Jesus tells has to do with seed. He says the farmer came out to plant the
seed. Some of it fell on the road and the birds stole it before it could take root. Some of it fell among the
weeds, and they choked it out before it could bear fruit. Some of it fell on rocky soil. It sprouted and
looked great! But as soon as the sun hit it, it died, because it had shallow roots. And some of the seed
(hopefully most of it, for the farmer’s sake!) fell on good soil. It grew and produced a lot of fruit!
The only question that remains is, are you willing to allow Jesus access to the soil of your heart? I can tell
you from experience, there is much work involved. So much work, in fact, that you will come to a place
of despair. You will realize that you are no good at farming truth. You have little to no ability at all to
produce God’s fruit. What we make will look good and sometimes even taste good, but it won’t ever
last. The fruit we produce on our own will make us and those around us sick. The only way our hearts
can be prepared for the purpose it is designed for is if we allow Jesus to do the work. Ask and expect
Him to begin plowing and planting today!