I didn't grow up in farmer's territory. I really don't know much about living in the country and off the land. After nearly 8 yrs of living in KY, however, I do have a new appreciation for the hard-working life of the farmer. Last night in our Wednesday Bible Study, we continued our look into the book of Hosea. Not an easy book to work through in a lot of ways. But when we got to ch. 10, vs. 11, it really hit home to me more than in the past. I love a good word picture, you know. And having farmers involved in the discussion was a real asset!
The New Living Translation puts vs. 11 this way: "Israel (Ephraim)is like a trained heifer accustomed to treading out the grain-an easy job that she loves. Now I will put a heavy yoke on her tender neck. I will drive her in front of the plow. Israel and Judah must now break up the hard ground; their days of ease are gone. I said, 'Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of my love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.'"
When I heard them discussing the process of treading out the grain, something in me just responded. They described the cattle as standing in a circuluar "pen" of sorts. Hitched together, and slowly just walking in circles with the grain beneath their feet. Over and Over. Round and Round. This translation says 'that's an easy job that you love'! Going through the motions, so to speak! And compared to the difficult, back-breaking work of breaking up hardened ground, who wouldn't love to just 'tread grain'.
So, I may not be able to write it down this morning exactly the way I'm feeling it, and it certainly isn't any great theological or profound truth: but I do know that I don't want to spend my life just treading grain. There's a time for that, to be sure. But there must also be the time for doing the hard work of introspection. Making sure that the ground of my heart is soft and viable for the seed of HIS righteousness that I might bear fruit.
And it also comes to mind that this passage in Hosea is referring to God's punishment against Israel for their continued disobedience and idolatry. But in the New Testament Jesus invites us, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me. For I am meek and lowly in heart. And you will find rest for your souls."
Given that loving invitation, how can I do anything else?