Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
In Part 1 of this series, I offered a metaphor, copied below (“July Verses”), comparing the season of waiting for the harvest to spiritual “waiting” after prayers have been planted, as it were.
My focus in the literal field is the month of July in the mid- and north-western growing regions of the United States.
In the figurative, spiritual “field,” of course, prayer, sourced in and nurtured by God’s Word, is offered anytime, anywhere.
In July, we wait,
water, weed, and watch
through the hot, hazy days
in the drama of growth slowed
between seed and harvest,
in the greening.
thirsty roots gather strength,
wait on the Lord of the harvest
Who in due time,
in the fullness of it,
brings the fruit.
Seeded deep in the wait is also
what the thirsty soul knows
in the heat and the haze,
the watering, weeding, and watching:
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him,
to the soul that seeketh him. (Lamentations 3:25, KJV)
Watering the Literal Fields
The rain, however, having been sometimes good for crops, sometimes not so good, has likely been augmented by man-made irrigation systems engineered in multiple ways for multiple kinds of farmland contours, after having been sourced in the best water supply available.
The point here is simple, however: once seeds have been planted and have taken root, crops need sufficient water: not too much, not too little.
If there is too much water, the following occurs:
The signs for an (over-watered) plant are:
- Lower leaves are yellow
- Plant looks wilted
- Roots will be rotting or stunted
- No new growth
- Young leaves will turn brown Soil will appear green (which is algae)*
Crops receiving too little water
Plants affected by not enough water will have yellowing leaves or dried leaves toward the bottom of the plant. If you see this happening, you are probably under watering plants. Too little water for a plant makes it conserve what little water it has by keeping the stalk green and the roots moist, but the leaves will turn yellow and wilt, eventually drying up.**
So it is a continuous task to properly water crops, involving 1 part good water supply, 1 part engineering, and 98 parts labor because, of course, there are challenges farmers watch out for and guard against as much as is possible.
The challenges include 1 part weeds, 1 part nature (weather), and 98 parts a combination of education and diligence.
Watering the Spiritual Fields
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made…
Jonathan Hewett, who blogs at “Learn the Bible,” cites some 722 references to water from its first (literal with literary qualities) mention in Genesis 1:2, on creation day 1-2, to its last (figurative) mention in Revelation 22:17; from when the Earth was as yet “without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” to where God showed St. John a “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. […]” and where, on “either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (references from the KJV).***
In short, the water flowing through the spiritual landscape of the Bible gives and sustains life just as does literal water in the fruit and vegetable fields.
Also, as on the farm, water for spiritual growth needs to be sufficient.
Too little spiritual water, specifically, that which is described as the Word of God that “cleanses and sanctifies” believers, leaves the spirit dry and in danger of dying…shriveling up and falling off–and away–you might say, from Jesus, the Vine onto which we are grafted at salvation.
Or, as Jesus put it:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5, NIV)
Too much spiritual water is also a danger. Consider:
This people hath refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly (gently); therefore behold the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, and he shall go over all his banks (Isaiah 8:6, 7, KJV).
According to Bible commentator Matthew Henry: “As a gentle brook is an apt emblem of a mild [peaceful, gentle] government, so an overflowing torrent represents a conqueror and tyrant.” Others cite the overflow of false gospels that in the end do not save but destroy.
Consider how many, varied, and dangerous, false christs, doctrines, religions, philosophies, etc., there are in the world to temp us away from the Word of God, in its original context and meaning, that tempt us to, or back to, the allure of powerful counterfeits (and there would be no counterfeits if the real were not so powerful).
As minders of our spiritual fields, you might say we need the water of God’s Word which requires not some, but all parts the Word of God–and “all parts,” of mind, heart, and spirit yielding to its live-giving and sustaining, purifying, cleansing, refreshing, and healing properties.
What looses His font is prayer–for spiritual life and sustenance as we yield to the seed, root, and growth nurtured by God’s Word, both in the Flesh (Jesus) and in the text.
It starts with faith in Him–which, like the rain that comes with the earth, is a gift from the Giver of all life, temporal and eternal, literal and figurative.
If you haven’t yet, you can ask Him for this faith today, or a renewal of faith if you’ve been through a dry spell, or perhaps some days, months, or years that have been a little too hot, a little too hazy…
And even as we plant–water–and await the harvest, we have this promise:
“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
* Read more at Gardening Know How: Signs Of Plants Affected By Too Much Water https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/environmental/signs-of-plants-affected-by-too-much-water.htm
**Read more at Gardening Know How: How Can You Tell Plants Have Too Little Water? https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/environmental/under-watering.htm
***For an elegant and encouraging commentary on this verse, see Matthew Henry (emphasis mine):
The Spirit, by the sacred word, and by convictions and influence in the sinner’s conscience, says, Come to Christ for salvation; and the bride, or the whole church, on earth and in heaven, says, Come and share our happiness. Lest any should hesitate, it is added, Let whosoever will, or, is willing, come and take of the water of life freely. May every one who hears or reads these words, desire at once to accept the gracious invitation. All are condemned who should dare to corrupt or change the word of God, either by adding to it, or taking from it.
On a related topic, “good and bad soil,” read here.
Image of irrigated field from Wiki Media Commons
Image of rain drops from Wiki Media Commons