New Seasons Require Clean Ground

Blackberry jam is wonderful. It goes well with peanut butter and toast or anything else you might have for breakfast. But every once in awhile, I like to eat blackberries just to give me a sense of superiority.

Let me explain.

If you know anything about blackberries, they are ravenous vines protected by a prickly armor that defies you to pull them out. The thorns pierce your hands and they’ll draw blood if you try to disturb their intentions. If you don’t conquer them, they’ll claim your whole farm. And in order to expedite their victory, the blackberries make an alliance with birds. Then after a scrumptious breakfast, the winged mercenaries take flight and drop payloads everywhere. This one act of aerial superiority causes the battle to turn and suddenly, enemy thorns surround you.

We have a little farm in Oregon where my two daughters and son-in-law live. Blackberries are common up there. They are opportunists. Like turkey vultures waiting for something to die, they hang around the fence lines. You can shoo them away, but by evening, they slide back into place. If they are not eliminated, they begin their advance and conquer our gardens and yards. I had to spray our fields this summer to get rid of the blackberries. I cannot sow seed until I clear the thorns.

New seasons require clean ground. Otherwise we work against ourselves.

This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.” -Jeremiah 4:3

In other words, first clear up the thorns.

Here’s what God says to Judah, and to us…

Take time to clean up, to re-establish the priorities that get compromised along the way… Priorities like:

  1. Keeping margins.
  2. Re-establishing eternal values that got benched.
  3. Keeping “family” as the most valuable treasure I have.
  4. Assessing my thoughts to remove any emotional attachments before they take root.

Values can get out of order. But the sin comes when we tolerate them and ask God to bless anyway.

How often I have seen people who want God to add a blessing on top of their error. It’s like adding a gourmet meal onto a dirty plate, and instead of washing a month old gym shirt, we just add some cologne.

Doesn’t work.

Recently, the infamous National Inquirer caught one of our presidential candidates in an affair at 2:30 in the morning. To add insult to injury, his affair was taking place over a period of two years while his wife was struggling with cancer.

Want to hear some more irony? His platform was built on family values.

You have to clear the thorns before you can expect a new season.

What are the areas of your life as a leader that need to be revisited? What about your health? Marriage? Family? Mind? Values? These need to be maintained and guarded, because if you turn your head, you’ll soon feel thorns at your back.

Today, I think I’ll go eat some blackberries.

A Leader’s Prayer:

Lord Jesus, it’s so easy to get dulled and stagnant in spirit and not take time to maintain my non-negotiable priorities. As each day arrives, things seem to vie for importance: Work, activities, and other “good” things crowd out “eternal” things.

So today, I will keep my hand to the plow and regardless of how I fare in other areas, I will not fail in the basics of life essentials. I will check on my family, my marriage, my health and my faith. (I just sent a text to each of my kids and reminded them to do their devotions.) I will invest time in these foundational areas and maintain a clear ground so you can begin new seasons.

And along the way, just for spite, I will stop and eat a few blackberries.

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