“Soil activation.” That’s what the lady at the local garden shop says our winter-worn ground needs. The dry winds of the cold season have left our lawn thin and soulless. One more week of droughty, windy weather and our hope for springtime renewal will be all but blown away.
My nose wrinkles and my eyes water a bit. The smells in the fertilizing section of the shop are quite pungent. I’d rather skip over to the bedding plants with their pleasant aromas and eye-pleasing colors. But our feet remained rooted here: soil first, blossoms second.
We’re pretty ignorant about redeeming our dirt, but smart enough to know that we need to go below the surface if we want thriving results. Behind her wire-rimmed bifocals and purple work apron, the garden shop lady appears wise about such things as dirt, nutrients, and soil structure. She seeds us with hope and trust.
As we prepare to cart off with our bags of soil activation she reminds us, “Be sure to water it in.” After pouring the organic kernels into the spreader and walking our yard row by row, then slow down. Apply water long enough and steady enough for the nutrients to seep deep into the soil. This isn’t to be a toss and cross-off-the-to-do-list activity; it’s to be an apply and soak practice.
Miss the soak and we’ll miss the growth.
Without water, there is no soil activation.
Without Water, there is no soul activation.
How many days do I simply toss kernels at my soul? Comforting verses – check. Inspirational quotes – check. Happy music – check. Cross it off the list and move on. But unless I slow down and allow the Living Water to soak into the dirt of my soul, I too will miss the growth.
“The hurry will make you hurt, the speed of things will make you sick.” writes Ann Voskamp. “Take time everyday to go slow enough to get a life.”
Go slow, my soul. Real activation doesn’t happen until Truth and Light permeate the dark and soiled. Turn your eyes upward. Let grace grow.
Go low, my soul. Uncover your idols, fears, and doubts. Repent. Be humbled. Be set free. Let joy grow.
Go slow, my soul. All your planning and preparing is for not. The Father orchestrates all your steps and prepares the work of your days. Open your hand. Turn loose your plans. Let peace grow.
Go low, my soul. A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day to the One who is and who was and who is to come. Breath. Trust in His promises. Let patience grow.
The structure of the soil: that’s what the store-filled bag claims it will improve.
The structure of the soul: that’s what the spirit-filled book claims it will entirely upend.
When I yield and permit His words from the sermon on the mount to soak deep into my soul, the structure of my sentences change from curses to blessings.
When I open my eyes and see how His faithfulness seeps into my life day after day after day, my anxieties are restructured into opportunities to trust and find assured hope.
When I unclinch my fists and let His love saturate my dry places, the roots of my self-centeredness and insecurities begin to erode and fall away.
When I release my agenda and allow His preferences to permeate my plans, my priorities are reordered.
Dallas Willard’s counsel doesn’t seem to fit into our 21st-century lives; that is, unless we are interested in a healthy spiritual life regardless of the century. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our world today.”
The hurry to do, to say, to post, to defend, to acquire, to check off, jump on, or cover up must be ruthlessly stamped out. Life isn’t a toss and cross off the list activity.
Skip the slow soak, the ponderings, the mediations, the careful and thoughtful considerations, and we’ll miss the growth. We’ll forego the redeeming of the dirt. We’ll forfeit life.
The Psalmist tells us that long soaks lead to understanding:
“I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on Your statutes.”
Living Water, given the opportunity to permeate and saturate, changes the structure of my soul. And it is from my very soul that the fruits of the Spirit can blossom and grow.
What started as rain, turned to sleet, and eventually became snow. Three days after laying down our soil activator, 17 inches of heavy, wet, spring snow fell upon our winter-worn ground.
The soil is slowly being soaked.
The nutrients are slowly being absorbed.
The structure is being reoriented.
Hope is taking root.
Joy is on the way.
The red hot “bathroom” issue is just one of the more recent areas of my life where allowing God’s truth and light to slowly soak in and permeate through my initial reaction has indeed restructured my mind and soul. But for the mercy of God.