“Untilled ground, however rich, will bring forth thistles and thorns; so also the mind of man.” (Teresa of Avila)
At the beginning of each year, the church I attend has a 4 day conference with special speakers to “ring in the new year” with outstanding preaching. This year 2023, on January 9, our guest speaker was Jentezen Franklin. The scripture reference for his message was from Luke 13, the verses are a parable that Jesus spoke to his disciples. I am going to quote verses 6-9 from the VOICE translation: “…A man has a fig tree planted in his vineyard. One day he comes out looking for fruit on it, but there are no figs. He says to the vineyard keeper, ‘Look at this tree. For three years, I’ve come hoping to find some fresh figs, but what do I find? Nothing. So just go ahead and cut it down. Why waste the space with a fruitless tree?’ The vineyard keeper replies, ‘Give it another chance, sir. Give me one more year working with it. I’ll cultivate the soil and heap on some manure to fertilize it. If it surprises us and bears fruit next year, that will be great, but if not, then we’ll cut it down.’”
The premise of Mr. Franklin’s message was how we cannot give up – because things do not “just happen”. Also, Jesus did not indicate in the parable that the vineyard keeper suggest waiting one more year while he continued just doing the same thing he had been doing. No, the vineyard keeper said that he would till the ground around the tree and fertilize it – something new and different. If we keep doing things the same old way, we cannot expect different results.
If we personally want real change with positive results in our lives, we may have to endure some discomfort while God cultivates around us – in other words – tills up the hard soil around us. He needs to dig it up and prepare the ground for new and better results to show up in our lives.
Mr. Franklin pointed out how the past 3 years have caused so much turmoil, pain, even devastation in the world because of the pandemic. It made me think about how we know that peoples lives have been impacted in so many ways – loneliness, depression, increased drug use, higher rate of suicide, etc.; and, it seems to me that we have not seen the improvements that we should have by now. Is it because things have not really changed? Are we just continuing to do things the way we have always done them? If we want to see new and better results from what has been happening, then we need to change how we have been dealing with it.
How can we do that? First and foremost, we need to turn back to God. We need to get out our Bibles and study them with more intent. We need to pray – pray hard every single day for all those we love and those that we know have needs in their lives.
“The Christian life is more than simply giving up bad habits. It is acquiring a newness of mind which comes from setting your heart and mind on Christ Jesus…”* “Only a person with the mind of Christ can truly overcome the sins of the flesh and live according to the Spirit.”*
One thing Mr. Franklin said was “If you want something you’ve never had you have to do something you’ve never done.”
So do not give up. Figure out what you really want for yourself and those you love in this new year. Then do something about it. Till the ground, fertilize it, weed out those thistles and thorns and do not give up.
Written by Karran Martin – January 14, 2023
[Bold emphasis is mine]
* Quotes from The Narrated Bible commentary by F. Lagard Smith