Fallow Fields


Six months ago, I left a job that was more than a title, it formed much of my identity.   Around the same time, the house we were renting sold, resulting in a temporary season living with relatives that ended up lasting months longer than we expected it to.  Needless to say, I felt displaced.

It could be described as a time between the times.  

Part of this season has included long commutes between multiple communities as we try to string discordant pieces of our lives together.  Fortunately, over portions of the drive I pass agricultural fields and it is harvest season.  The produce is diverse, colorful, and beautiful.

But there are also fallow fields.  Barren.  Dark and muddy.  Forgotten and neglected.  It is not their time to shine.  This portion of my life has felt fallow.

A fallow field, however, is much more important than it may seem at first glance. God even tells people in the Bible to let fields have their fallow year.  In Exodus 23:10-11 He says, “Sow and reap your crops for six years, but let the land rest and lie fallow during the seventh year, and let the poor among the people harvest any volunteer crop that may come up; leave the rest for the animals to enjoy. The same rule applies to your vineyards and your olive groves." Yet nobody ever listened. 

God's people so consistently rejected his command to let the fields lie fallow in the seventh year, that by the time of Jeremiah, the people are sent into 70 years of exile to make up for each year they neglected a Sabbath rest. 

Why would anyone resist such a loving command to rest? Maybe because most of us equate rest with a nap. And no one needs a year long nap.  But a fallow year is actually much more active than that.  While the fields were fallow and unplowed God tells his people to "Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns," Jeremiah 4:3.  In other words, work hard to not let weeds creep up, I need fertile soil for this new life I am going to grow.

And that's exactly what this assignment has felt like to me... an effort to not let weeds creep in.  To hold onto God's truth, to not envy the harvest time fields that are rich in produce, to remember God's promises, and to cultivate a rich soil that is ready for new life to begin.