Fields of Gold

Featuring Branon Dempsey Posted on May 14, 2008

As God produces fruit in our lives, we give him thanks for the good things he has caused to grow. Has there been that time when God was ready to grow a purpose within you, but something else was blocking your way?

When our fields remain unattended many obstacles can prevent our growth. They can be weeds of the world, boulders of guilt, erosion of joy, the bugs of discontent or the birds of famine. Has not God called you to do something great? Has He not given you a field to produce a harvest?

About a year ago, my wife and I planted a small fig tree in the corner of our yard. We spent the whole day planting other trees and flowers. The one fig tree was special to me. I bought it because it reminded me of fun times when I was 12. I always loved the huge fig tree we had in our atrium. Large green pillowy leaves stretched over our patio to provide shade. The large brown branches shot over our enclosed area where birds would make their homes. The figs themselves made very tasty treats. On summer days, mom would make the most wonderful deserts. The figs also made great weapons of war with childhood friends. They also made a great mess of which I had to clean. Those were good times.

In a desire to rekindle some childhood treasures, I hastily dug a deep hole, planted the young sprout, added some stimulator and saturated the ground with generous amounts of water. A few weeks passed, I did not see much progress in the fig tree. I checked the soil, added a bit of fruit tree fertilizer and proceeded to water the tree. Still after a few more weeks – nothing. Then something happened, some of the leaves turned yellow. Because I did not know much about planting, I figured the tree was thirsty. I soon learned that the more I watered, more yellow leaves appeared and were falling off! I called our local nursery only to find that I was drowning the poor guy.

Yellow leaves mean that the tree is receiving too much water; brown leaves mean that it does not have enough water. I noticed another problem. There was a retention pond forming around the tree. The nursery worker informed me that sometimes certain conditions of the ground can cause this problem. South Texas is known for having large amounts of clay in the ground. Layers form together underneath the soil and form a barrier against moisture. When homeowners proceed with landscaping (like us), you have to determine where the clay is buried and replace it with good soil. What did I do? Panicked. Without reservation, I took the shovel and garden weasel and broke ground to alleviate the flood. I also added good soil to mix with the clay and aerated the ground carefully. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. The tree was already wilting with only a few leaves left. After a few more days, the little fella looked like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I was sad (sniff). I learned that I had ruined the tree. For the rest of the late spring and summer, the tree remained in its match stick appearance for the rest of the year.

I find that sometimes with the best intentions, we pour so much care into one thing, that we miss the bigger picture. In my case of the tree, I needed to understand the condition of my soil. Next, I needed to break up the ground more thoroughly and remove the counterparts. Finally, I needed to use less water and allow time to take it’s course.

When God calls us to do something great, we need to check our fields. We need to determine if or what type of obstacles are standing in our way. The fig tree represented something else in my life and I wanted to see results. I thought I was doing all the right things: planting, watering and waiting. But God was teaching me something greater.

The Scripture says in Ezekial 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” In the wrestling of my impatience, God made it clear that there were stones in the soil of my heart and they were to be removed. I needed God to clear the stones, cultivate my heart and nurture my growth in order to produce good fruit.

What do you do in the meantime? Proverb 3:5 & 6 tells us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” That’s it. No need to excessively add water or fertilizer to make it grow. No need to panic. God does the growing – not us. I found that my responsibility was to nurture the soil of my heart. A good friend reminded me that when we neglect our own vineyards, our growth is stunted (Song of Songs 1:6). God was purely calling me to do two things: trust and obey.

God wants your heart first. He desires to soften the soil of your heart so he can grow what he desires. Spend time in His Word that is food for your soul. Spend time worshiping and praying that places you in the intimacy of His presence. Spend time serving His Church and people that supplies and builds the Kingdom of God. Trust Him with all your heart as you obey what he’s called you to do today. Just the next step is enough; not steps 3-5. If you’re like me, jumping the whole staircase seems more fun and takes less time! However, we are a work in progress. God has called each of us to do something great and to produce something great.

We learn overtime. The joy we experience is in the progress. It’s not always fun and sometimes growth causes pain. But take heart: Paul said in Romans 8:18, "Our time of present suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that Christ will reveal." Our time is in the “here and now”. God causes all things to grow for His purposes. Our responsibility is to tend our fields. We are to be ready and able to have God complete his work within us. Check out this wonderful book, “Here and Now,” by Henri Nouwen.

What has God called you to do originally that you are not doing today? Take some time to nurture the soil of your heart, read 2 Timothy 1:6-12. This passage has been and will always be significant to my growth and outlook. My prayer for us is that we immerse ourselves in His Word and presence, allowing the Lord to nurture the soil of our hearts. As we seek to please him by producing good fruit, may we take the time to trust and obey by tending our vineyards.

By the way, here is a photo of the fig tree today.