Yesterday, I helped a young man prepare a wildlife food plot located on top of a hill. It reminded me of a time when I wanted to reclaim a hilltop, not for wildlife, but for dairy cattle.
Throughout the time that I operated the dairy, the hilltop where my barn is located had very little grass growing on it. The heavy, daily cattle traffic did not allow grass to thrive. Gypsum weeds, barnyard briars, polk stalks, thistles and other assorted weeds covered the five acres surrounding the milk barn.
For several years, I wanted to reclaim the hilltop. I wanted to reestablish a lush stand of fescue and clover. Each time I would get into the mood to undertake the task, I would ask a few older farmers if they thought the efforts would be successful. The farmers would unanimously respond negatively, saying the only way to reestablish the grass was to stop the cattle traffic. As long as the herd continually trudged over the land, any new emerging grass would either be smashed into the ground or pulled up by its roots.
One spring, I decided to give it a try, regardless of the older farmers’ advice. I sowed the hilltop fairly heavily with fescue seed and worked it in with a chain link harrow. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall months, it seemed as if I’d succeeded. Small blades of the desired vegetation shot up. These blades turned into tufts. The tufts seemed to intertwine, forming small islands of sod. From all appearances, I could claim that I had beaten the odds and had successfully showed up the old timers.
But then winter set in with all of its mud and extra heavy cattle traffic. The herd spent far more time lounging around on the five acres. Sweet smelling hay and fresh water were easily accessible. The milk barn was located in the center of the lot. The weather was often cold and foreboding. So the cows saw no need to travel off the hilltop to the pastures.
And the old timers’ prophecies came true. The success was temporary. The forces and circumstances which had destroyed the original stand of grass destroyed this crop as well. Spring brought about new growth, but the grass did not reemerge as I had hoped. Only the weeds returned.
My attempt to reclaim that five acres had failed because I had not removed the devastating forces and circumstances; the forces and circumstances which had originally ravaged the landscape, and which would continue to do so until they were banished.
Many times we find ourselves needing to be reclaimed spiritually. A life that once was covered with lush spiritual vegetation produced by the Word of God is now bare and muddy. The world treading around and upon us has taken its toll.
In an effort to reclaim our spirit, we go back to the Book, resowing the seed into our heart. At first, it looks as if we have succeeded as we begin to feel spiritually recharged and renewed. However, we do not try to remove ourselves from the forces that originally produced our unfaithfulness. Instead we allow the world to continue treading around and upon us. Then, when the winter comes, as it always does, we find that all the growth we had experienced and felt so good about has disappeared. We are once again barren and void of the spiritual vegetation in which we so fervently desire to be clothed.
Until I stopped the cattle traffic, I could never successfully reclaim the hilltop. Until we remove ourselves from the high traffic areas of worldly lusts and activities, we can never successfully rededicate our souls to faithful service of the Lord.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33) ESV
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:18-23)ESV
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