I've been thinking lately about the push and pull to be constantly producing. Ingrained in "Western" culture is the expectation to be constantly growing, producing and "bettering" one's situation. Striving for the American dream, and one-upping the neighbors keeps people moving at a frenetic pace.
In the 1930's, the United States suffered a severe drought, leading to the Great Depression. The cause of the drought was over-use of the land and an abandonment of centuries-old soil conservation practices. Farmers demanded more from the land than it could sustain and the entire country suffered for a decade.
Several millennia earlier, God outlined crop practices for His people, the Israelites. Exodus 23:10-11 says, “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops,11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove."
Rotating crops and allowing fields to fallow is the best way, to this day, to cultivate healthy and productive soil. God's plan provided rest for the land, work/life balance for the farmer and provision for the poor.
Do you ever feel like you are in a fallow season in your life? That instead of producing, like you normally would, you are stagnant, left untended, diminished and barely of use? This is the season I've been in for longer than I'd prefer. I went from a job supporting students involved in the criminal justice system, with a caseload of almost 200, to sitting in Covid lockdown and investing in a handful of young people online. The extremes of this transition have been a shock and a tough pill to swallow.
I'm encouraged by the example of the fallow field, though. Even when it isn't being cultivated and demanded upon, it continues to produce a small crop, from leftover seed. What little it produces still meets a need (verse 11: Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left.). If it were being used for the masses, as per usual, there would be nothing left for the few. As it rests and recuperates from years of productivity, it still has a capacity to bless.
So I am comforted in my role of being a fallow field right now. This rest is healing and replenishing me below the surface, and in the meantime, I can give what little I have to those around me.
I pray that you and I would be patient with ourselves when we are diminished in some way, whether it is through health, mental health or circumstances. That we will have grace for ourselves when we just can't produce like we always have. That we would have grace for others who are in a season of fallowness. Our Father is not a slave driver; He is the God of the Sabbath rest and in His economy, all are provided for.