A little over a week ago, I planted some seeds with my kids. They were just simple zinnias (bright, colorful flowers) in the two pots by our front door. Because of our regular afternoon rainstorms, we haven’t had to water them. We stuck the seeds in the soil and then just let them lie fallow. As we did that, it reminded me of one of the parables from Mark 4 that Michelle Brodeur preached on two weeks ago. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26–29). Spiritual growth is a mystery. It happens slowly over time, underground in our lives. We know not how. It is something the Lord does in us. We can plant the seeds and provide good conditions for growth to happen, but it is only the Lord who makes the seed sprout and our souls mature. It would be foolish for us to dig up the seeds every morning and re-plant them. We have to let the seeds alone, leave them at rest, and let God do the work of giving them life and growth. Letting things lie fallow, undisturbed, might seem like a strange strategy for growth. But often, it is the fallow times in our lives, the times when it seems like nothing is happening, that God is growing us.
Summer is a fallow time, but that doesn’t mean it should be a shallow time. When we think of summer vacation, we often think of pursuing worldly pleasure and relaxation. This isn’t bad. God gave us the creation to enjoy. But this shouldn’t be the sole purpose of our fallow time. Summer is an opportunity for us to go deep with God, to spend longer stretches reading His Word and listening in prayer. It should be a time to slow down and really listen to what the Spirit is saying.
Over the past several weeks, I have had several conversations with people who (for various reasons) are limited in their mobility. They are all normally active and busy people, who have had most of their activity stripped away from them. It has been a privilege to watch as God has transformed their fallow time into growth time. I’ve seen them deepen their prayer times and engagement with Scripture. In summer, as we all slow down and lie fallow, let’s not forget that it is in the fallow times that God goes deep into our lives and causes growth and new life to spring up. Make engaging with God through the Scripture and prayer one of your priorities this summer.