The Return 

Published in FROM THE GARDEN, 2020 

Bonnie McDaniel McClure 

I grew up across the street from a thirteen-acre garden plowed and planted by a  single, lifetime farmer, his plow, and mule named Midnight. Mr. Freddie Crawford  came from a long line of farmers. Farming was all his family had ever done for  livelihood. He knew intimately the timing, care, and touch required to help  something grow. He was humble and hardworking, quiet and non-assuming. He was  deeply kind. Throughout my childhood, each summer, he would tell me that he had a  watermelon growing with my name on the vine.  

My father was an avid relic hunter. He loved to visit grading sites to try and find  arrowheads surfacing from their burial from ancient times. He would often hunt Mr.  Crawford’s garden, as each year the garden was cleared and plowed anew,  unearthed a new layer of discovery.  

One year, he found five, unbroken arrowheads right in the middle of the thirteen acre garden. He marveled at the discovery, having hunting the same land for many  years and never finding so many complete pieces, and all in one spot to boot. Mr.  Crawford told my father that whatever lies along the outside of the garden will  eventually turn up in the middle, if the field is plowed regularly, as it should be.  

I see this as a beautiful metaphor for the way God regularly plows and renews our  lives each season. He knows precisely what is buried in the soils of our hearts. He  put it all there himself. With each new turn of the soil, we dig deeper into the  sanctifying grace of His love and His plan for us. We turn up new gifts, new  treasures, at just the right time.  

Clearing a field could seem sad, in a way, as our fruit and gleanings have died and  gone. But we can also think of this time as a deepening commitment to what we  want to plant for the New Year to come. It is just as much a season of hope as it ever  was, with new layers of understanding fortifying our faith.  

So we return to the work. We return to the labor. It is in the return that we continue  to sow and reap for the kingdom of God. And in return, He sows and reaps for His  kingdom in us. 

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping,  carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”  Psalm 126:5-6 NIV