HAPPY NEW YEAR!
My Word Of The Year is…. LAUGHTER! I think it’s kind of weird and I’m not sure what it may have in store for me but God has been clear so I’ll declare it.
In the spirit of laughter, let me tell you a little gardening story at my own expense:
The very first Spring we moved to the Ranchito I had big dreams for my little garden. I had spotted it the very first time we walked the property. It was already plotted out and fenced in. Now, it was a total mess, full of tumbleweeds and debris, but it was there and it was going to be mine. As the weather began to warm, I was itching to get to work. I labored weekend after weekend clearing the garden, pulling weeds, and repairing the fence and watering system (ok, my husband did that part but I held stuff). After the tumbleweeds were gone and I could actually see the ground I noticed a little sprout and thought, “Hmmmm… that weed looks like asparagus.” I promptly pulled it up and moved on. The next weekend I went back out and found the same funny looking weed in the same spot and thought again, “Hmmm… that weed looks like asparagus,” and once again pulled it up. By the third week, when I finally went out to plant my inaugural garden and found it resiliently popping it’s head up once again, I thought, “Hmmm… You know what? That IS asparagus!” And it was.
So, like all master gardeners, I’m sure, I went straight to Google to research “planting asparagus” Here is what I found:
“Planting asparagus seeds in an exercise in patience, but one of the most rewarding of all garden tasks. Asparagus seeds germinate slowly, and the crowns take three seasons before they can handle being harvested.” Under “difficulty” is said, “Moderately difficult, requires patience.”
Obviously what I finally caught on to was the fact that someone before me had planted asparagus seeds in what would eventually be my little garden, and now I was reaping the harvest. I didn’t have to be patient. I didn’t have to wait three years for the the harvest. I just walked right into my new garden and had asparagus. And honestly, the fact that there even was a garden there in the first place, with a fence and a watering system… I was reaping the benefits of someone else’s hard work.
What would 2019 look like if we all tended to our Spiritual Family Farm? Our legacy… the one we were left and the one we are leaving?
Even if we have never grown anything in our life, we are all familiar with the idea of the Family Farm… the plot of land, the tools, equipment, storehouse or barn, maybe even family homestead passed down from generation to generation. And even if we have no inheritance in sight and not two pennies to leave anyone, we ALL have spiritually inherited land, and a harvest to sow into the next generation.
And not tending to the Spiritual Family Farm will neither make it disappear or flourish.
Our legacy deserves our attention.
What did you learn about God from your parents or family of origin? What did you believe about yourself and the plans God had for your life because of the words they spoke or did not speak into or about you? What about the cultural air that you have unconsciously breathed in your whole life? The spiritual atmosphere of your times, your city, your gender? How about the institutions that you were a part of, or NOT a part of? Can you name the people in your life that mattered in your spiritual journey?
As you tenderly walk the boundaries of your inherited land, the Spiritual Family Farm that was left to you, take note of what you see. Is the equipment broken down? Are there weeds to pull up? Or is the storehouse full of harvested seed, ready for the next generation’s planting?
There is so much grace here because we did not get to choose the Spiritual Family Farm that was given to us. I pray that you find yourself on the receiving end of the covenant of love to a thousand generations because of the legacy that was left for you (Deut. 7:9). But the very good news is that no matter what you inherited, God’s mercies are new every morning, and every generation (Lam. 3:22-24).
In the Old Testament, God powerfully rescued His people from 400 years of Egyptian slavery through terrifying plagues, and the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea. He sustained them with manna from heaven and fresh water out of rocks. He led them with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. He was faithful and tangible and present in their lives like we can only imagine. When they reached the Land He had promised them, Moses sent 12 spies to scout it out. And although God had led them there and called the land theirs, 10 of the 12 spies came back with a “bad report” (Ex. 13-14). They told the people that though the land was indeed very good, the inhabitants were too many and too powerful to overtake. And the people believed them and rebelled, rather than believe their God who had rescued and sustained and led them to that very place. So as punishment, God sent the Israelites away from their promise to wander in the desert for 40 years until the entire doubting, faithless generation had passed away.
But then we come to Deuteronomy 6 where we finally see Moses preparing the next generation to enter Canaan. In verses 10-12 we read; “When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
Remember, this was the same generation who had originally reaped the curse of wandering in the wilderness for 40 years because of the unbelief of their parents. Their Spiritual Family Farm was literally desert until that day. But here we witness God flipping the script for them. Now they would reap what someone else had planted and be blessed by it, rather than cursed for it.
He can do the same for your Spiritual Family Farm this very year, but you may have to get a couple of important tools out of the shed.
I would suggest forgiveness and gratitude.
Instructions to forgive and give thanks fill the Word of God.
We are commanded to forgive just as God forgave us. Forgiveness never says that the iniquity, the hurt, or the offense was okay. After all, THAT is not how God forgave us. He takes sin VERY seriously. In fact, it is what nailed His beloved Son to the cross. But forgiveness always paves the way for fruitfulness in our lives and in our legacy. It is making a way for the dry, cracked dirt of our hearts, hardened by years of bitterness and pain to bring forth life again.
So as you walk the boundaries of the Spiritual Family Farm you inherited, are there people or institutions that you need to forgive? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you for the sake of your fruitfulness and legacy in 2019. Make a list. Pray through it. Maybe write a letter or make a lunch date. Maybe not. But do the hard work of plowing through that barren soil and trust that fruit will sprout in its wake. It will be worth it.
I pray there are other names that you remember in gratitude…the names of people who pointed you to Jesus, who sowed into your Family Farm, who built the cities, filled the houses, dug the wells and planted the vineyards (and asparagus) you are reaping the harvests of today.
Psalm 77:11-12 says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” I don’t know about you, but very often in my life, the “mighty deeds” and “miracles of the Lord” come in the form of people. He loves us and draws us to Himself through the other flawed image-bearers we share this earth with.
Are there people you need to thank as you think about the Family Farm you received? Did you learn to love the Word of God from your Mother? Learn to pray by watching a Sunday school teacher? Hear for the first time that someone believed in you from a coach? Read a book that changed your life? I know this for sure, there is no one in this world that is over-encouraged. The work of gratitude is holy. I can’t imagine a legacy more pleasing to the Lord and more needed in our world than one of thankfulness and encouragement.
Plow the fields of your inherited land with forgiveness and gratitude. And come back for Part 2 as we discuss the Spiritual Family Farm that we are leaving to future generations.
Blessings and prayers for a Fruitful 2019.