A movie I enjoy watching is Second Hand Lions starring Michael Caine , Robert Duvall who play two eccentric, bachelor great-uncles, Garth and Hub, of a 10 or 11 year old Walter, played Haley Joel Osment. It’s a “coming of age” story, not just for the young Walter, but also for the great-uncles.
Walter is left for the summer by his mother with these two great-uncles on a farm in Texas. Now the two uncles have lived lives of adventure but are now trying to settle down into a retirement, which of course is impossible. They are reported to have fortune of gold hidden on the farm so they are always having traveling salespeople and relatives showing up to get in on the fortune.
As part of their becoming settled, Garth gets them to plant a garden with seeds he bought from a traveling salesperson because “That’s what retired people do.” He buys the three of them bib overalls so they can look like farmers. But because they are new and stiff, they look more like the greenhorns they are than farmers.
As the plants grow, Hub asks what is what which row. Even though they had clothes like farmers and at the end of each signs indicating tomatoes, radishes, beans, corn and peas they have a garden plot of all corn.
Sometimes I think we in the church can be like Garth, Hub and Walter. We put a lot of effort into various activities thinking we are growing one thing and discovering something else entirely. We can get distracted by suppose to’s (“because that’s what retired people do”) and lose sight of God’s get to’s. We get to feed the hungry. We get to grow in our relationship with God.
A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all the farmer can do is provide the right conditions for the growing of grain. The ground is
cultivated, the seed planted, the plants provided with life giving water, and then natural forces of the earth take over and up comes the grain. This is the way it is with the Spiritual Disciplines–they are a way of sowing to the Spirit. The spiritual disciplines are, “a means of receiving God’s grace which place us before God so that we can be transformed,” as Richard Foster has written.
The Word given to us is like a seed. We cannot make the Word into something we want it to be, weather to make us feel good, or righteous, or justified in our behavior, nor to use against another person.
The task for us, then is to cultivate our daily lives into fertile ground in which God can bring growth and change. This is what Lent and the practice of the spiritual disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, stewardship, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, celebration) are all about.
The application to the spiritual life is not too difficult to understand. If your life-as-usual has not been fertile ground in which God can bring change, then, as Dallas Willard writes, “life-as-usual must go.”
So as we move into Lent, I ask you first to consider the spiritual disciplines listed above and chose at least 2 to cultivate—one from the first 4 and one from the rest.). Your practice of spiritual disciplines will require an alteration of life-as-usual. I ask you to approach your life with two questions:
(1) What am I currently not doing that, if I were doing, would open myself up more to God’s work of grace in my life?
2) What am I currently doing that, if eliminated, would open myself up more to God’s work of grace in my life?
May your Lenten journey be a time of growing
Pastor Ron Kempe
(Information based on www.watersedge.tv)