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Tilling the Soil of the Soul


From a newsletter by Jim and Letta VanMeter

There is a gardening adage that goes like this:  “Buy a $2 plant and put it in $20 soil.”  Nothing is more important to the success of a garden than rich soil.  The condition of the soil is everything, and rarely does excellent soil happen without lots of care and attention.  Soil can become hard and cracked, if it is taken for granted and neglected.  Soil needs to be tilled, and additional organic material may be needed in order to create the conditions for an optimum growing environment.

Five years ago, I was prompted to take a sabbatical.  My soul was tired and dry.  I was saying to myself, “There has to be more to life and ministry than I am experiencing.”  During the sabbatical, as I experienced the love of God in deeper ways, I realized that the “more” I was longing for was the intimacy with God that would feed and nurture the soil of my soul: that personal word from God spoken to my own heart.  I came to realize that I had taken my walk with the Lord for granted.    I had failed to nurture and care for my soul.  I realized that I needed to pay attention to the condition of the soil of my soul, and nurture the conditions for optimum growth in the garden of my soul.

Some of the conditions that I have come to believe are important for the care of my soul are regular times of solitude and silence to hear from the Lord and His Word; regular, day long retreats; and weekly Sabbaths for worship and rest.  I have discovered that living with margin in my life is important, so that my soul is not hurried. Regular times of getting out in creation to contemplate the glory of God in creation are paramount.  As I care for and till the soil of my soul, then I am able to hear and receive life-giving words of love and appreciation from the Lord (2 Cor 3:18), words that transform lifeless, hard, cracked soil into rich, moist garden producing soil.  The best thing I can bring to the missions community is the tilled soil of my soul.  The condition of  my soul is everything!

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