You have what you need

You have what you need March 9, 2017

springtooth in hedgerow

Our friend Dennis discovered an ancient springtooth harrow in a hedgerow.  (It must be a requirement of all Kansas hedgerows that they have at least one worn out implement stashed in beneath the trees.)  Dennis’ springtooth had grown decrepit by long years of abandon.  It was splotched with picturesque lichens and rusted earthen red. And it was just what he needed.

You see, Dennis is a retired farmer who runs what he calls the “Sharing Garden.”  It’s a bare-bones operation: a small field where Dennis grows veggies that fill hungry stomachs at the food bank and flowers that brighten souls at the hospital.  Dennis had a pile of fermented cow manure, and the Sharing Garden was in need of tilling, but he didn’t have a harrow–until he found this one.  With a day of restorative work, the springtooth–or at least half of it–was back in action, put to use behind his tractor to turn the earth of his little field.

The apostle Peter wrote in his second letter that God’s divine power has given us “everything we need for living a godly life” (1:3, NLT).  We don’t often believe him.  We’re more likely to think that we need some heroic dosage of grace, some merit, some special outpouring of the Holy Spirit to live the God-filled life.  We think we have to become somebody other than who we are: somebody smarter, stronger, holier, and more caffeinated.  But no.  God has given us everything we need.

This means at least two things.  The first is that we don’t have to go searching around for some hidden technique or special grace.  As a mark of our baptism, we’ve been given the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22).  We have the Scriptures and communion, prayer and worship.  We have Christ.  That is grace enough.  The springtooth is already in the hedgerow.  We just need to bring out of our treasure “what is new and what is old” (Matt. 13:52).

The second is that if we aren’t living in a way that matters now, we won’t be able to do it by changing circumstances.  We’re enough–and this place with these people, right where we are–is enough.  It’s not a matter of finding a church with a more convincing bass thump and a more charismatic crowd.  Moving to hipper digs won’t make the God-filled life happen.  It’s about living where we are, in the places where we find ourselves.  It’s about learning to be present.  That sounds like the simplest thing in the world, but being present is the lost art of the soul.  Being present leads to finding contentment in all that’s around us–places and people.  Being present is the discipline most vitally needed in the rural church, where so many have moved on and away, bidding farewell to wheat fields and hedgerows for suburbia’s greener grass.

Listen.  God has given you everything you need to live the God-filled life.  What you’re looking for is not out there somewhere.  In Christ, you have it already.  It’s in the hedgerows of your heart.



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