Mowing Down the Fields

The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. —2 Peter 1:8 NLT

Every year my husband got the old tractor out of the barn, sharpened the blades on the mower, and took the time to cut what used to be productive hayfields. Forty years ago, they yielded hundreds of bales. 

But no more. Over time, the hay thinned out because no one was farming the land anymore, so the soil wasn’t cultivated. But he didn’t want the fields to grow wild, allowing unwanted trees, shrubs, and bushes to take over. Left untended, the fields will go back to their natural state. If we ever want the land to be productive again, we’d have to add lime and fertilizer to the soil.

Those fields are a reminder of what I’m like when I neglect the disciplines that foster healthy spiritual growth. Bushes of bad habits, shrubs of subtle sins, saplings of selfishness spring up when I don’t take time to mow them down through prayer and Bible reading. In the light of God’s Word, I examine my life, confess the sins God reveals to me, and ask Him to help me mow them down and keep my spiritual fields free from unwanted growth. Left untended, I’d go back to my natural state, where my sin nature reigns.

But simply cutting down unwanted growth isn’t enough. Like our fallow hay fields, my life would be unproductive without extra work. 

God has given us all we need to live a godly life, but we have to invest our own time and effort to become productive by adding to our faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.

“Do this,” God tells us, “and you will never stumble or fall away” (2 Peter 1:10). 

Indeed, He promises the very gates of heaven will swing open wide.

Dear Lord, forgive me when I neglect my fields. Help me to be diligent and steadfast so that I can be productive for You. Amen.

Read and reflect on 2 Peter 1:3–10.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image created by Paulette Johnson/Fox Hill Photo, from “How to Restore a Hayfield to Full Production,” by Daniel Johnson, Hobby Farms

The Deathbed Perspective, Part 3: Keeping the Faith

Read and reflect on 2 Timothy 4:6–8; Psalm 121; Hebrews 11.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)

Today we look at the final phrase of Paul’s deathbed words to the young pastor Timothy: I have kept the faith.

What does it mean “to keep the faith”?

When I hear the word “keeper,” I think of a zookeeper, someone who’s charged with guarding and caring for the animals. I also think of God Almighty, who is my keeper. He protects me, guards me, helps me, watches over me, and preserves me (Psalm 121).

Another definition of “keeper” is “someone or something you want to hang on to, keep, not throw away or lose” (my definition). I knew my husband was a keeper the night I met him.

No matter the meaning, though, it takes work—time and effort—to be a keeper, to consistently guard, properly care for, hang on to something or someone for a lifetime.

Now let’s look at the word “faith.” According to the Bible, “faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it” (Hebrews 11:1 NCV). “Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses” (Amplified).

Faith, to a Christian, is not just believing that God exists, but believing God is everything His Word says He is. It’s believing the promises we read in His Word and taking them personally. It’s believing God without a doubt—or in spite of it—when the world around us believes only in tangible things.

Now put those two words together: “keep” plus “faith.” Keep the faith. How, exactly, do we keep the faith?

By clinging to it in the storms, the silence, and the successes of life.

Let’s look at those times:

First, keep the faith through the storm. The Gospels record the times Jesus calmed the storm—and His disciples in the process.

But He doesn’t always calm your storms, does He? What do you do then? Lose your faith? Shake your fist in Heaven’s face? Stop believing He cares for you or that He even exists?

God knows there are times you must go through the storm—to grow, to learn, to become the person He’s molding you into. Like the words of the song, “sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms me.” Faith is believing during the deep, dark times when the storms are raging all around, that He’ll never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), that He’s with you always (Matthew 28:20), even if you don’t sense His presence. Faith is not feelings. Remember Zephaniah 3:16–17.

Second, keep the faith in the silence—God’s silence, that is. When your prayers go unanswered, when you feel alone and abandoned. Believe that God will answer in His time, His way, and always for the best. God’s silence doesn’t mean He’s not with you. Keep a journal of your prayers and when and how God answers. You’ll be amazed when you look back and see He was there all the time.

And finally, keep the faith in success—when things are going your way. We tend to forget God then, don’t we? We spit up a quick “thank you” and then enjoy our success as if it were all our doing.

Fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith, Pilgrim, for a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) with your name awaits you at the finish line.

 Dear God, help me to guard, protect, and preserve my faith. Help me to both keep and be a keeper of the faith. Amen.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.