Lessons from a pile of dirt

Have you ever noticed that sometimes we, as humans, can get very small in our thoughts? Well, I was in that small place. Life around me was going a bit crazy as thoughts of making ends meet, possibly moving, career changes, uncertainty in the church and our ministry swirled incessantly around me. Maybe, since all the big stuff wouldn’t stop making me dizzy, I needed to focus on a small non-moving target, the desire to have a garden. I had tried the previous year with limited success. My tomatoes experienced a hard frost days before ripening. The only seed I’d managed to get sprouted, Carl the Carrot (when there is only one you tend to take it personally), vanished mysteriously during the night when it was but a tender 2 inches tall.

Undaunted, but often laughed at by my good friend who can coax a rock to sprout, I decided to try again. Here was the problem, during the winter, which feels like it is about 20 months long where I was living, my chickens had managed to scratch away all the soil in my 2 raised beds. The loss must have slowly developed or I am just rather unobservant. I did not notice the lack of soil until I was ready to get going on my garden. It doesn’t sound like a big problem, just go get some more dirt, right! Well, the dirt around the house was rocky and not all that great for growing. Money being tight, I could not justify spending the money it would cost to fill the beds (especially since recent past experience predicted low production). So, I went around for about two weeks whining about my lack of dirt…mostly in my head but a few friends also had to listen to my dirt dilemma. I really did not even pray about it because who prays about dirt? At this point I probably should have remembered all those bible verses about how God knows all our thoughts. He was registering my thoughts, so focused on dirt, loud and clear.

One June morning when it was just about past the point of planting anything, my husband headed down to our pasture to clean a cattle guard. We had had to chase a rogue band of cattle out of our fields several times over the past week because the cattle guard had filled in and the cows just walked right across the thing. Using a pickax and shovel my husband valiantly attempted to clean the guard. While he was working a neighbor drove past and commented to my husband that he sure was going at it the hard way. They arranged to meet later and the neighbor would bring his tractor to help with the job. Needless to say the giant tonka toy idea definitely appealed to my overworked husband. That afternoon, they spent a couple of hours cleaning the cattle guard. When they were close to finished my husband came charging up to house asking if I needed any dirt. They had a big pile and the neighbor was willing to bring up a load with his tractor. At this point I just to had smile to myself because if I had broken out in the laughter I felt, well my already questionable sanity would have been appeared even more questionable. I had to laugh at the way God not so subtly reminded me that He knows all of my needs, want, desires, and thoughts and will provide according to His will, even if it is a lowly pile of dirt. Now whenever I dig in my garden beds or hopefully manage to harvest something, I have a constant reminder of His provision.

I used to think that perhaps God was laughing at me when these things happened but I am learning that he is actually teaching me how to laugh!