When you walked into the small side room of my grandparent’s basement you were witness to a beautiful bounty. There stood before you row after row, on metal shelf after metal shelf the goodness of hard work that would last us all winter long. We would dine like queens and kings while the wind howled, temperatures dropped and snow drift.
Tomatoes pureed, juiced, whole, or ketchupped. Peaches and peas. Corn and green beans. Carrots and beets. Grape juice and limas. Jams and jellies of all varieties. The colors were vibrant. Bellies would be full. It was a time of celebration and thanksgiving for such sustenance.
This past year has been difficult. You too? We are (finally) experiencing the reaping of some harvest but it wasn’t without being broken along the way. As I have been contemplating and reminiscing I discovered I’ve learned a few things along the way:
Before the bounty of the harvest, much brokenness occurs.
Our neighbor back the lane, Greg, would bring us a big pile of horse manure every fall after the harvest. He would simply spread the manure over the entire garden, let it sit for a few days then plow it under so the soil could absorb the rich nutrients and be ready for a spring planting.
Until the ground was broken the manure simply lay on top, not doing a whole lot of good. It was after the breaking that the manure could do its job of making the soil rich and ready to reap a harvest.
There was plenty of manure spread this past year. Hard stuff. Difficulties. Tests. Trials. It was when I became completely broken that the richness of those struggles could seep down in and begin to reap a harvest. When I allowed God to plow the hardness of my own heart and begin to break it for those things that break his, then I could begin to see the promise of the harvest.
In the spring Greg would give the garden one final plow with his big tractor and then my Grandfather would go through with the rototiller and break the ground even further. The breaking of the ground the second time made it more pliable for row making.
After some time during this past year my prayer stopped being to change her or fix them but instead became what is it You’re trying to teach me that I still haven’t learned. I needed to be broken down further in order to be more pliable.
My Grandfather would then take a hand row maker and by following a string to help make the rows straight, he would once again break the ground. This breaking was not so harsh or deep. More mindful and with a specific purpose…preparation for seeds.
There is ALWAYS purpose in brokenness. Always. Areas that need to be prepared for growth. James tells us to consider it pure joy whenever [we] face trials of many kinds because [we] know that the testing of [our] faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that [we] may be mature and complete. (James 1:2-4)
You don’t reap a harvest with immature plants.
My Grandfather would then lay the seeds in the newly dug row. Our job as kids was to follow behind him and cover the seeds with soil. In the darkness of the earth, change to that seed occurred. There in the silence the seed pod gets broken open, then has to fight its way through the darkness to break through the soil. Out of the darkness comes new growth and a seed changed into what it was meant to be all along…a maturing plant, one that will nourish and feed.
Not one moment of brokenness is wasted.
Sometimes dark places, silent places can be scary. We live in a do something kind of world. We live in a shout it out kind of society. To be still is foreign. To be quiet is alien. To sit in the dark is unnerving. We don’t like when we cannot see. But isn’t that what faith is all about? Of being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
There were many moments when I felt covered by darkness. Smothered. Times when I couldn’t see. Did I trust God to make the changes needed to be made ~ in me, in my situation ~ even though I couldn’t see what was going on underground, in the dark? Would I trust Him in the process necessary to produce a rich, ripe, bountiful harvest? A maturation that would nourish and feed others?
We would then watch and wait. Water and weed. You could almost see the plants grow from one day to the next. Corn stalks that grew well over my little girl head would soon grow tiny ears of corn that would mature to full ears quickly. Every day you would see my grandparents walking the garden, checking for maturity and ripeness. Then you would hear them exclaim that in two days we would pick the corn to be put away.
More brokenness was necessary in order for the garden to be of any use to us.
We would break the ears off the stalks (or beans off the plants or peas from their pods), rip the husks off, silk it with a little brush then cut the corn off the cob to be blanched and put in the freezer. Again a process with a purpose.
My Granny would never have been able to serve us the delicious meals she did if there hadn’t been brokenness. Instead we ate and enjoyed the bountiful harvest from all our hard work. And yes, the brokenness along the way.
There is a bounty in the broken.
Jesus understands brokenness. He gave thanks and broke the bread that would feed over 5000 people. Feeding the broken with broken.
He gave thanks and broke bread with a small, more intimate group…his disciples. Serving the broken with broken.
He willingly gave his body, broken so we could live. Hope for the broken with broken.
There is a beautiful bounty, a harvest beyond our imagination in our brokenness.