A Poor Spot of Ground

Zachary Collier

“And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard. And The Lord of the vineyard said unto him, counsel me not; I knew it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore I nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.”
(Jacob 5:21-22)

An empty plot of ground on the corner of a dirty city block. It used to be a parking lot, and there are still slabs of asphalt in the parched, dusty earth. On the parts of the plot of ground not littered with slabs of asphalt or broken glass or old Frito-Lay potato chip bags there are weeds as tall as you are, and they choke out and devour everything in the lot other than weeds and broken glass and old Frito-Lay potato chip bags. The lot is ugly, useless, and desolate. It’s hot, it’s dusty, it’s dry, it’s awful.

Often, this is how we see our lives. We see what used to be and how it has decayed over time. We see the things that we have left undone, the trash that we have failed to pick up. We feel that the demands of life are crowding us, choking us, and preventing the garden of our dreams from growing as it should and bringing us a bountiful harvest. Seeing our lives in such a state can be overwhelming to say the least, and it would be very easy to leave the lot alone, or to use it merely as a place to trash, to abuse, to forget, to let languish. We may raise our eyes to the sky and curse God for giving us a dirty, vacant city lot instead of a watered and landscaped city park.

But to God, this plot of land isn’t an old parking lot. It is a future Eden. God knows that the trash can be disposed of, the weeds cut back and ultimately plucked out, the asphalt removed, the soil softened and turned, and eventually seeds planted that will grow into beautifully manicured lawns and flower beds. He has an eye for beauty – for seeing what is, and what it can be.

Jeffrey R. Holland said this about the Lord’s work in our lives: “Clearly this… is hard, demanding, and, at times, deeply painful work, as the work of redemption always is. There is digging and dunging. There is watering and nourishing and pruning. And there is always the endless approaches to grafting—all to one saving end, that the trees of the vineyard would ‘thrive exceedingly.’ …From all the distant places of sin and alienation in which the children of the Father find themselves, it has always been the work of Christ (and his disciples) in every dispensation to gather them, heal them, and unite them with their Master.”

If you are struggling, and life isn’t going how you planned; if you feel slighted by the universe and like you’re behind or were born in unfavorable circumstances; if mistakes have caused you to falter and lose faith, don’t give up. The Lord knows that the ground you’re growing in is poor. But he planted you where you are, and he is nourishing you, pruning your life, cutting back and plucking out the weeds so you can grow and bloom where you have been planted.

If you are faithful and if you labor with him, one day he will say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”


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