Years ago, when we lived on the southwest coast of Norway, I was impressed by the pristine beauty of snow-covered fields bordered by stone fences. Every spring, after the snow had melted, the farmers labored to remove stones from their fields, thereby enlarging their fences. I recall wondering why they had not cleared the land properly in the first place and why the fences were not already deemed complete. “Why this annual digging for stones?,” I speculated. My husband, an engineer in the oil industry with some background in geology, explained that the earth was not stationary. Forces in the earth are constantly shifting, pushing the stones upward to the surface with changes in temperature and pressure. That process led to the necessity for removal of the newly-surfaced rocks prior to planting the fields each year.
God has effected significant transformation in my life, particularly in the areas of rejection and self-hatred, guilt and shame. Although the initial deliverance from powerful hindrances in these areas was substantial, occasionally something happens that exposes another stone — a residue of the strongholds that previously ruled my heart and my thinking. As life marches on, there are circumstances that force those stones to the surface of my heart. Each time, I have a choice regarding how to respond: either I can recognize that there is another hard place in my heart that the Lord is tenderly digging up and removing, or I can deny it entirely, claim I am free, and refuse to submit to His cleansing touch. A third option might be to beat myself up and doubt that the previous transformation even amounted to anything at all. Clearly, options two and three are not helpful responses!
Taking the third option, if I assume I have not gained anything in my walk with Jesus, I will refuse to move into the next season and will endure a season with no planting and no harvest. Secondly, if I refuse to acknowledge the stones emerging from the soil of my heart, I may plant seed, but it will be hindered in its growth. On the other hand, if I recognize God’s revelation of the residue of my former bondage and submit to His hand, He will dig around those stones and remove them, rendering the soil fit for plowing and planting.
Father, till the soil of my heart and remove the residue of past pain and bondage. Give me grace not to be blinded by my own pride, discouraged by the process, or fearful of the pain sometimes necessary to the healing process. Cause my heart to be a heart of flesh, fertile soil fit for abundant growth of the holy Seed of Kingdom truth — truth who is a Person, and His Name is Jesus!
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:25 (NKJV)
See also Mark 4:1-20.