Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12, emphasis added)
A.W. Tozer in his book Paths to Power has a chapter entitled Miracles Follow the Plow. This blog is entitled The Plow and has been inspired by this writing of Tozer. To me the miracle of a transformed life (Romans 12:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18) is accomplished only by the Hand of The Plow.
Tozer comments on two types of ground, and subsequently two kinds of lives that can be experienced. The first type of ground is fallow ground which generates weeds. Secondly there is ground broken by The Plow, which is ground that yields a fruitful life. We see both kinds of lives in our Christian experience, and you and I need to understand the choices which are implied by the ground on which we live. Unfortunately the Western Church is too full of examples of the fallowed ground type of life. It is often apparent we can only read or hear about the fruitful life of others, without personally experiencing the life that is being upset by the plow.
We will first discuss the points made by Tozer of the two types of ground, and then the two types of lives they produce. The choice of the individual Christian will become evident in his or her life; only the life that has been broken by The Plow will be able to heed the command to become and to make disciples by teaching and obeying the Word of Jesus. Miracles follow the plow, and the life of the disciple is a miracle given to the Church through the servants who are empowered by the Holy Spirit through the Hand of The Plow.
Concerning the fallow ground Tozer says it is, “Protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow.” This ground always remains the same, a plot of land overcome by weeds and inactivity. It is always satisfied and fully content. It is safe and undisturbed. It is the picture of stability, never does it change. This ground never sees the miracle of growth, the motions of creation, or the wonders of the seed springing to life. This land will never see fruit because it is afraid of The Plow and the pain it brings. This land puts up a fence to surround it and never lets the Farmer in to work the land.
In contrast Tozer has this to say about the plowed ground, “In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has been opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry.” On this ground peace is shattered, the field is upset, turned over, bruised and broken. This is where the process of God’s creative work can be observed in all its grandeur. Here, “New things are born, to grow, mature, and consummate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.” Miracles indeed follow the plow.
Each and every person who states that they are followers of Jesus Christ are presented a choice of which type ground they want their respective life to be planted in. Will it be fallowed ground or ground ready for the upset of The Plow? Do you want easily living or the painful reality of The Plow applied to your life? There is no middle ground (pun intended). Let us next examine the lives produced on these two pieces of ground.
The life of the fallowed ground is content where it is as if it has attained the height of its ascent to godliness and closeness to His Creator. This life glories in fruit produced in times past and speaks of it often. This life wants to be left alone and without a care at all. This life considers itself faithful and conservative. But it is a life that bears no fruit and hides from the pain of The Plow. Tozer stated that this life has the wrong focus for, “To be has taken the place of to become.” (Italics in the original) There is no growth because this life believes it has arrived or aspires to be no closer to the work of God than where it finds himself in the present. The people who embrace this life will surely stay the same and will keep God from working in their life by way of The Plow.
The life of the plowed ground is a life in which repentance welcomes the plow. Those who embrace this life know they fall short of what God desires in their life and turns to the hand of God to move by way of The Plow. In their lives you will find no fences, no safety, but lives which know and accepts the pain of The Plow. Tozer stated this life is, “Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And as always fruit follows the plow.” The fruitful life is the plowed life. It is a life which starts with a desire to draw closer to God, willing to change everything, to become fruitful. You cannot get fruit without first enduring the pain of The Plow.
This all ties into Christian discipleship and character development. The type of ground you begin with will lead to two different outcomes. The fruitful life of discipleship begins by inviting the Hand of The Plow to break up your fallow ground. To keep your ground fallow is a life without Biblical discipleship. What choice are you going to make?