The Plow

The Plow

The plow

In New Zealand we have much the same kind of documentaries as
the rest of the world i.e. 60 Minutes, 20/20 and the like - and one of our best
presenters is a man called Rob Harley. He has that indefinable something that is
known as the 'cutting edge'. His presentations have always been extremely
interesting and he doesn't waste any time in trying to get to the heart of the
matter. Unusually balanced and with no hesitation in asking very pertinent
questions, (not always popular ones either), the information that he ferrets out
enables the viewers to quickly arrive at their own conclusions without having
the bias of the presenter being forced down their throats, subtly or otherwise.

What is interesting here is that Rob Harley knows the Lord
and is still able to survive in the intense arena of the media. This, I believe,
is due to the Lord's blessing on his life as he puts Him first in everything
he says and does.

My husband and I were at an evening church service where Rob
spoke and his message was entitled, "What I've Learned Since I Knew
Everything!" (I believe he got the title off a book that he'd read at some
stage.)

As we sat listening to the words that he was saying, I was
struck by the fact that what he was saying was not typical of modern day
preachers -– in fact, he quoted from A.W. Tozer, a man of God who wrote books
from the early to mid-1900's. He stated, "I guess my philosophy is this:
Everything is wrong until God sets it right." "The Best of A.W. Tozer"
compiled by Warren Wiersbe, goes on to say, "The entire focus of his preaching
and writing was on God. He had no time for religious hucksters who were
inventing new ways to promote their wares and inflate their statistics. Like
Thoreau, whom he read and admired, Tozer marched to a different drummer; and for
this reason, he was usually out of step with many of the people in the religious
parade."

Rob Harley obviously had great respect for what Tozer had to
say and read an excerpt from a piece of writing called "Miracles Follow the
Plow".

"Here are two kinds of ground: fallow ground, and ground
that has been broken up by the plow.

The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock
of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after
year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the blue jay. Had it
intelligence, it might take a lot of satisfaction in its reputation; it has
stability; nature has adopted it; it can be counted upon to remain always the
same while the fields around it change from brown to green and back to brown
again. Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of
sleepy contentment. But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility: Never
does it see the miracle of growth; never does it feel the motions of mounting
life nor see the wonders of bursting seed nor the beauty of ripening grain.
Fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.

In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded
itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence had opened to admit the
plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel,
business-like and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer
and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has
been upset, turned over, bruised and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its
labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious,
exploring the new world above it. All over the field, the hand of God is at work
in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to
grow, mature, and consummate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it
entered the ground. Nature's wonders follow the plow.

There are two kinds of life also: the fallow and the plowed.
For examples of fallow life we need not go far. They are all too plentiful among
us.

The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the
fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in tolerant
superiority at revivals, fastings, self-searchings, and all the travail of
fruit-bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within
him. He is steady, "faithful", always in his accustomed place (like the old
field), conservative, and something of a landmark in the little church. But
he is fruitless
.....

The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of
repentance, thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession
into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances and the
distress of fruitless living have combined thoroughly to humble the heart. Such
a life has put away defence, and has forsaken the safety of death for the peril
of life. Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of
God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed.
And as always, fruit follows the plow." End Quote

The reaction of some, after reading a piece like this, will
be of shocked disbelief -– "Surely you don't believe that, do you? Have you
forgotten that we are seated in heavenly places with Christ? You are preaching
negativism here!"

As is often the case, the balance has been left out again.
Nothing good comes without being preceded by discomfort of some sort. If it did,
we would no longer be able to recognise that something good had happened. (As a
man called Archdeacon Prebble once said, "It would be like the story of Little
Red Riding Hood without a wolf!")

The wonderful dawn hours of hope are always preceded by the
darkest hours just before them, the wedding day is preceded by a stress-filled
number of days, the birth of a child comes as a result of terrible labour. Being
seated in heavenly places wouldn't mean a thing unless you realised the horror
of being tormented for eternity in the opposite place.

I have never spoken personally to Rob Harley, except to ask
him for the name of the book he quoted from, but his reputation as a godly man
has come back to me from many sources, not the least of which are his own
television documentaries. I don't know the story of his life so cannot tell
you if the plow has entered his soul but I do know that no-one can read an
excerpt like that unless he truly believes that what it says is true.

The thought of the plow does not fill me with great joy but
the thought of a complacent but fruitless life that is largely ineffective makes
me feel even worse. I want the words "Well done, good and faithful servant"
to greet my entry into Heaven and if it takes the plow to do it, then I will ask
the Lord for the courage to allow it into my life! "Break up your fallow
ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness on
you." Hosea 10:12.