Tilling the Soil

Life has been a bit overwhelming lately. To use a gardening metaphor, it feels like God has been tilling the soil of my heart. It’s a really good and necessary process, but it’s difficult too. Weeds with deep roots get pulled, old soil that hasn’t seen the light of day in years gets dug up, and hard pieces of earth and clay get broken. That’s exactly how I’ve felt lately.

God has been pulling up some weeds – showing me and convicting me of sin and ugliness in my life. And I feel like he has been trying to cleanse me anew from some of the deep seated junk in my heart and life. Sometimes I respond well to his prompting in confession and repentance and other times my heart clings to the familiar weeds and to my own safety. Lord, help me to let go – help me to let go of all that is not of you and all that hurts you. Lord, continue your work in me and pull out all the junk and ugliness that there might be room for new growth.

God has also been turning the soil of my heart, bringing things that have long been buried up to the surface. I feel like around every corner the past few weeks there has been a memory or a realization about my past. There have been a lot of insecurities that have been brought to light in me the past few weeks and God has often also revealed some truth about where those insecurities come from. It has been a week of epiphanies. In some ways it has also been a week of mourning. As I realize more about myself and my story and more of that gets brought into the open I also realize more about my own brokenness and the brokenness of those around me, and I mourn. Lord, help me to accept the digging that you are doing in my soil – help me to let you dig and not to try and stop you before you are finished. I want you to bring to light the very darkest places of me and teach me what I am in you. I feel weary and tired from the process already, but I want to open myself up to you, Lord. Finish the work you began in me.

God has also been breaking the hard soil of my heart. Those places that had become hardened by hurt or pain or fear, the places that I had avoided in my life and in others because it was too difficult to go there – those places God is beginning to break down. I feel my heart softening towards all those around me and unknown to me. I feel myself wanting to plant new seeds of hope and justice in my heart instead of fear, denial, or judgment. But, even as I feel that softening there is a final clinging to my old naiveté. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to be softened, that feels it will be too difficult and too tiring – a part of me that rebels and says that I am fine as I am. Lord, break me, even when I fight against the breaking. Lord, break the judgment in my heart, break the fear that has for so long ruled my life, break my tendency to avoid and run from pain in my life and in others. Help me to instead run towards those who are hurting and in need, just as you did, Lord Jesus. Give me opportunities and the courage needed to fight for justice and to bring hope and help to all those you put in front of me.

Lord, continue to till the soil of my heart, but please, Lord, don’t stop there! Begin to plant seeds in me that will spring forth into works of your glory! In Jesus name, Amen.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

Photograph by Beth Stedman

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Tuesday Prayer: A Prayer from the Anglican Prayer Book

Almighty and most merciful Father,
I have erred and strayed from thy ways like a lost sheep,
I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart,
I have offended against thy holy laws,
I have felt undone those things which I ought to have done,
and I have done those things which I ought not to have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon me,
spare thou those who congess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promise declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake,
that I may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

Photograph by Beth Stedman

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Sin: More about Social harm than Moral imperfection??

Last night I had a dream. It was basically like a Tuesday at David and Tara’s but with some new faces. We were talking about sin and I made a comment in my dream about how maybe sin is more social then moral. Then I woke up. I started thinking about my dream… sin being more social then moral…

I’ve always thought that God hated sin because it was morally evil – that it was sort of this something other than God. God was perfect, sin was that which “fell short” of God’s perfection. Sin was something God couldn’t in his perfect nature do Himself – or allow or tolerate. Sin was evil and evil was this something outside of or other than God.

But this morning I started thinking maybe God doesn’t hate sin because it is just some moral evil in and of itself and can’t be done or tolerated by a perfect God… Maybe He hates sin because sin is something that hurts people, that damages relationships, that harms community, that injures society. As I started to think about it I couldn’t think of a single sin that didn’t damage relationships and hurt people (if you can I’d be curious to hear it).

The 10 Commandments are a good place to start – each of them could be argued to be about relationship – relationship with God, with family, with neighbor and with society at large. It’s like God is saying these things hurt you, they hurt others, they hurt society and they hurt your relationship with me – so why do I dislike them? I dislike them because they hurt my beloved creation. And that’s why you should dislike them too.

I think in some ways we have disconnected sin from its social consequences, from its relational focus and have instead made sin a very personal, very internal thing. We have made sin about ME falling short of God’s perfection, instead of about me harming and hurting God and others.

Maybe it’s just me, but I found this to be a really interesting train of thought and it made me look at sin in a really different way.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman

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Roundup From Around The Web: The Quick Version

So, I finally watched the last two episodes of Lost last night! CRAZY! I’ve been watching the show since day one and I can honestly say I love this show!! Anyway, on from randomness to more randomness…

Julie Clawson has been writing about the life of the mind on her blog – basically presenting a defense of intellectualism. Very interesting stuff that I really felt I agreed with and could relate to.

Phyllis Tickle wrote a blog talking about showing love and hospitality to “strangers” – very challenging thoughts that I felt fit well with Tara’s thoughts on the “invisible”

This was a great blog about Deep Rest.

Ever wondered which US city is the most “sinful”? This study looked at all seven deadly sins and ranked each US city in them. There’s an interactive map to play around with too. I thought it was sort of interesting. I found it from a blog where the author was talking about how the church should interact with the specific needs and problems of the particular city/community it finds itself in.

Well, I think that’s actually it for today.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman


If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)