A.W. Tozer: Are you fallow or plowed?

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But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15

“There are two kinds of lives also: the fallow and the plowed. For examples of the 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 curse of such a life is that it is fixed, both in size and in content. To be has taken the place of to become. The worst that can be said of such a man is that he is what he will be. He has fenced himself in, and by the same act, he has fenced out God and the miracle.

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 defense, 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. Life and growth begin as God “rains down righteousness.” Such a one can testify, “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there.”

A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) from Paths to Power, excerpt from chapter 51, entitled “Miracles Follow the Plow” in The Very Best of A.W. Tozer, 127-128.

Funny, when I read this, I thought of the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my hotel room door. That’s the person of fallow life. “Don’t bother me. Don’t inconvenience me.”

Tozer rightly noted that this person has chosen comfort over contrition and will never amount to anything more. They might as well cash in their proverbial chips. Often they do. Is that you?

If so, I hope this post shakes and wakes you to the reality that God has bigger dreams for you. Fasting during Lent is about setting aside human desires for heavenly ones. Let God plow you to produce another crop.

After a great full day of conferences in Guatemala yesterday I pause from my own fasting to celebrate the first of seven feast days this Lent culminating with Easter.

As many have asked me what I am fasting from, I will share. I am fasting from bread this Lent while feasting on the Psalms at the divine hours.

God has impressed this verse deeply on my heart. Whenever I am tempted to take control of any situation. Rather than take control, He whispers for me to trust Him.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4.

When I connect this idea with today’s reading, it reminds me that some people are content with earthly bread when eternal nourishment is available, if people would only look for it.

In pausing to read a Psalm and to pray at the divine hours I am partaking of nourishment that was always available to me but not always eaten. It’s like I have been leaving spiritual food on my proverbial plate.

Don’t settle for what you are. The Lenten journey is about letting God plow you afresh so that the seed of the Word takes root and bears fruit in you, which among other things, produces kindness and generosity.