This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns. Jeremiah 4:3
Israel had fallen away from God while Judah remained faithful to Him. But in due time, Judah lost faith as well and pursued other gods. And yet we see that God continued to love and pursue His children in Judah the same as He does you and me today. As I read Jeremiah, I hear God pleading with His children both then and now to come home to Him (Jer 3:22). But God knows there is a reason His children seek other gods. The reason is in our hearts. We will never return to God, nor seek His grace and love, unless we have a change of heart.
And so God tells the people of Judah to break up the “hard ground” of their hearts. He warns them of the thorns of life. Jesus identified “thorns” as the cares and anxieties of this world in Matthew 13:22. There are many anxieties and worries that creep into my life to steal God’s Word of assurance and love away from me. These come in the form of high expectations of myself, and my desires for material things. But these have palled in comparison to the worry and anxiety caused by my recurrent angina. My recurrent disease threatened to harden the ground of my heart to the point that I would never trust God again.
I think we can all relate to the idea that the anxieties of life affect our heart. It’s easy to become resistant to God by focusing on our problems rather than Him. “Life happens” as the saying goes and before we know it we have forgotten all about God. This results in a hardened ground of our heart. So how will you plow it? How will you prepare your heart for God’s seed? I have found the first step to simply be the recognition that I have a hard heart. I will never plow it if I don’t think it needs to be plowed. The second step is turning to God. When I open His Word and pray for His Spirit to teach me today, I find my heart softening. That’s all I need to do! When I turn my heart over to God, the hard ground is turned upside down into soft dirt ready for His seed to be sown.
God can break through the toughest circumstances, the deepest despair, and the greatest anxiety in your life. And it doesn’t take years, months, or even weeks. God can soften the soil of your heart in hours or even minutes. He has the power to change your attitude, renew your heart, and transform you life. And all you have to do is allow Him into your heart.
Is the ground of your heart hardened? If it is, plow it! Turn to God, listen for His voice, read His Word, and be ready for Him to rock your world! When God gets your heart, your life will never be the same!
I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12
I grew up in Indiana, went to college in Michigan, and spent over 15 years in Illinois. When it comes to planting soy beans and corn, you have to start with plowing the soil. This is because there is so much clay in the soil that it becomes as hard as cement. If you were to plant seed in the Spring without plowing the soil, it would never germinate and there would be no harvest in the Fall.
And so it is with the human heart. Our hearts become hardened by bad decisions, misbeliefs, and the arrows of emotional trauma that come from things like rejection, isolation, loss, and abuse. Only God can break up the hard soil of your heart and plant the seeds of righteousness that Hosea writes about. But how do you plow the heart and where do you get the seeds of righteousness?
I have found prayer and meditation on His Word to be the most effective way to plow my heart. Without prayer, the Bible is just literature. But with prayer, the Author of the Bible interprets it for my life today! The Bible then becomes a living and powerful tool to change my thoughts and behaviors. Paul says it this way in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” When I pray the Word of God, open my mind to His thoughts, and seek His will, then my thoughts and desires are “exposed.” That describes plowing! It is just like the farmer that exposes the soil to the sun and rain. Plowing the heart with God’s Word through prayer exposes the heart to the light of the Son and the rain of the Holy Spirit. It can be disruptive to my plans and desires. It can be unsettling to discover that my thoughts and actions have been wrong when I thought they were right. But that’s the point of plowing – disrupt the soil to prepare it for a harvest that could otherwise never occur.
The harvest of the heart is what we are all seeking in life – LOVE! We all seek to be loved and to love. There is no greater need of the human heart than love. But our hearts have been hardened due to a lack of love. When I plow my heart each morning by submitting to Jesus and reading His Word, God plants the seeds of His Word in my heart resulting in a harvest of love. And it all happens because I was willing to be disrupted. I was willing to allow Him to change my thoughts and beliefs and desires. It happens when I let Him plow my heart. It can be painful for sure. But the harvest of love is worth it.