And it feels like the whole world is grasping at you, pulling at you, wanting more and more- and you stand there, mouth open, gasping for air, bone dry. There's nothing left. You've given it all- the hugs, the kisses, the encouragements, the rebukes, the discipline, the redirection, all of the patience, all of the passions. And here you are- an empty shattered cup- and there they are... hands open, still waiting for more.
Am I alone? I figure I am not. I figure that I'm not the only mom and wife who has given herself so fully that she's given it all away. And there's still hungry mouths to feed and open arms needing embraces and a husband who's been quietly waiting his turn as well? And even in the unspokenness of it all, you know he's tired of waiting. He has needs and wants and feelings and he wants a bit more of you, body-mind-soul.
And so he speaks it- finally- and it crushes you. It was there all along: unspoken and desperately heavy. And it's so hard not to see him and feel like he's just one more pulling at you. One more person who wants one more piece and there's not even dust and scraps to scrape together and try to make-do anymore.
I get angry. I get resentful. I say enough is enough and rant and cry to friends. I leave every opportunity I get just for moments of silence and peace. I make rules about putting myself first and "self-care" and not pushing myself so hard and putting MY needs before everyone else's because I am just. so. done.
And that voice- it finally cracks through all the lies spilling in and it says "Read My Word". And I argue that I've read it all, and I know what it will say: "submit to your husband" and "be a sacrificial servant"... and follow that Cross that I claim leads my life. And He bellows back- READ MY WORD. So I take 10 minutes that I always pretend I don't have and crack it open, after dusting it off, where I left off last.
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” -Mark 4:3-8
I've read this a thousand fold, but THIS my friends is His Living Word and it cuts through bone and separates marrow and I find myself flayed open.
With that seed strewn upon the rocky places, we see that in times of ease it just thrives and looks glorious. But as the sun beats down and adversity comes, it falls to pieces and produces nothing but tumbleweeds. And when the seed is strewn amongst the thorns, its so quick to get choked out and overwhelmed by all the pressing in and suffocation and neediness of the growth all around it.
I feel the thorns, deeply pressing into my soul, and I feel the sun drying me to the bone til I am nothing but dust.
Shallow faith withers at the first sign of trouble.
He whispers to my heart "be the good soil". How? I THOUGHT I WAS. I try SO HARD to love everyone well, and have no one need for anything and I just.keep.running.out of me. How do I DO BETTER? How do I make it all work? How do I keep going when I'm running on empty, and there's always these cries for MORE?
And so He speaks: Cultivate the soil. Cultivate faithfulness. Soil that is good is fed and watered and tilled and balanced and richly deep. Is your faith? Is your pursuit of My Presence any of those things? Are you feeding and watering and tilling and balancing?
My answer: There was dust on my Bible.
Cultivation is self-discipline. It's a practice. It's a leaning-into, hard, physical labor that requires diligence and faithfulness. It's not about "finding" the time that somehow loses itself daily, but about MAKING the time to lean in and lean on. Cultivation is physical, mental, and spiritual. It is character and integrity and faith. I have to do MY part and be the good soil, for each of His Seeds to reap the reward He so faithfully promises.
So I see- I am not good soil. I've not been cultivating. I've not been tilling and feeding and bringing the dark soil up into the light. I've been digging roots into briars and rocks and wilting. And this wilting me- how much does it reap? Nothing- this shallow existence falls to dust with no reward.
And here's the big clincher: With deep enough roots in Christ, I can produce one-hundred fold what has been sown into me.
I don't need my love bucket filled daily. I don't need my husband or my children to love me more or serve me better or fill me up or even leave me alone. I need deep roots- and so when those fleeting moments come along that someone hits the nail on the head and serves me for a moment, then that's the sprinkle I needed. That's the speck of a mustard seed dropping into my soil. And it will be so rich and my roots so deeply sown that out of that ONE SEED will come one-hundred fold love, patience, passion and faithfulness.
His promise is this: You cultivate the soil. I'll provide the seed, and I'll create a bounty unlike you never imagined. A bounty of YOU so that you can call it all JOY to be pressed down, turned over, shaken up and wrung out because I will ALWAYS be there to lean into and lean on.
Not my strength, but His.
And I know it's all true because I've seen it, experienced it, felt it and tasted it so many times before.
God designed me to have a sacred influence over my husband and my children. He created me to be the jack of all trades. He designed me to be the center for all of these spokes... he enabled me and has called me by name. But He has NEVER asked me to do it on empty. And He has NEVER asked me to do it all alone.
He created me to cultivate the soil of my soul so that I could be the fertile ground that He uses to minister to those all around me.
This is Holy Ground. I am the Holy Ground and this ground must be tended... not by flowers or cards or massages or vacations but by leaning into Him as I continue to turn this earth, in preparation for the seeds that come my way. And when I do that, He will use me to reap a great harvest in those whom He has called me to serve.