The Land

February 19, 2017

Our car bumps over the uneven ground to where a small group huddles around a candle that won’t light in the breeze. The day is already unseasonably warm, the sky a clear dome of pale blue. Together we recite ancient words seeking pure hearts and clarity to ready us for prayer. Lord, purify my heart, I whisper as we begin to chant.

Thank You for fathering us. Thank You for protecting us, Your much-loved children.

We are here because of grace. No other reason. Not effort or skill, and certainly not any sense of entitlement. Grace that moved Almighty God to stoop low toward us. To seek, and redeem, opening wide the doors of heaven, granting us bold, “come as you are” access to Him. “Any time at all” Grace. The same Grace that’s entrusted us with a piece of acreage, made up of mud and dead grass. And promise.

Lord, keep my heart pure. Thank you for revealing Yourself to us.

In spite of all the hype, the land appears rather ordinary as I walk its length, seeking distance and space from the swoosh of cars that whizz past on Huntley road, the thunder of trucks, and my own restless thoughts. “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant... full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what [they] want from God.” Jesus’ words pulse in my mind, cautioning me against pretense. Lord, keep my heart pure. Even now, the pull to perform is strong.

Lord, thank You for your Kingdom—here and there.

Our intent this morning is to drive a previous stake deeper into the ground. This ground. A stake expressing gratitude and faith, dreams and dependence.

Lord, thank You for knowing us so well and loving us so deeply.

Stuck into a corner of the bleached and flattened turf, a neon flag waves. Evidence of a recent survey, it designates a boundary, ownership. We hold a title, free and clear. But this land is not ours. Not by a long shot. It, like the vehicle that brought me here, the house I live in, the warm coat I wear, the muscles that give me motion, the breath that gives me life, the heartbeats, belong to Him. To Him alone.

Lord, keep my heart pure. Thank You for providing for us and tending to us. For being God—for freeing us from the burden of needing to play God.

Further on, a smattering of scrub trees borders the western edge before the woods. Here, the ground is littered with pale corn husks and bits of broken, empty cobs—remnants of the harvest this land has nourished and yielded. The sound of honking geese and the unmistakable trill of a single red-wing blackbird, and then a chorus of a less distinct, but ever-so-beautiful birdsong, remind me that, although it has yet to bloom, this land is full of life and hope.

Thank You for Your glorious creation. For the beauty You make possible.

I stop and lift my face toward the sun’s warmth to soak it in, needing these moments to simply bask and be. Walking back, my shoes sink into places where the frost has given way. For the first time, I notice bits of green beneath the beige and brown. Spring hidden in a bleak landscape. Waiting.

Lord, thank You for helping us to trust—even when it’s hard. For helping us to say yes (when we often want to say no. Lord, we thank You for everything.

 “Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.” Isaiah 60:21–22