The Crowded Life
You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. -Deuteronomy 22:9
Country life seems so charming, doesn’t it? Of course there’s more to it than sipping iced tea on a porch swing, strolling through orchards, and pulling freshly baked bread from the oven, but images like these often evoke our desire for a simpler life with fewer demands and obligations. We want to slow down, take a deep breath, and play with a litter of kittens.
But most of us live in a much messier reality. Whether we dwell in the country, the city, or the burbs, our days are full, long, and tiring. We’re too busy to unwind, and too wound up to enjoy the things around us. “Being present” all too often falls off the end of our to-do lists. And even though we know on some deep level that life isn’t really supposed to be like this, we can’t stop. Or maybe we just don’t know how to reconcile slowing down with our call and desire to live meaningful lives.
Perhaps God’s Word can shed a little light on our common predicament. As the Israelites were wandering the desert, freed from slavery but not yet living in the Land of Milk and Honey, God gave them specific instructions on how to live once they reached the Promised Land. One such instruction is found in Deuteronomy 22:9: “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard.” Scholars believe the primary reason for this instruction was to create distinction. As God’s holy and separate nation, Israel was to do things differently than other pagan nations who mixed seeds for spiritual purposes. Planting one kind of seed in a field would be Israel’s way of demonstrating holiness.
Interestingly, from an agricultural point of view, sowing different types of seed in one field isn’t good for crops or the land either. Different types of plants have different water needs, and even if they require the same amount of water, they can compete for nutrients in the soil. In other words, stuffing a field full of various crops is a lose - lose situation. It’s bad for the soil and prevents a crop from reaching its full potential.
Stuffing our lives with a multitude of activities isn’t too good for us either. It wears us down. It drains us. Perhaps God is calling us to be different from others in our culture by resisting the temptation to fill our lives to the brim. Perhaps God is calling us to be signs “in a busy, tension-packed world that disciples will not live by work alone, but through the rest and renewal that comes from God.”
As you examine your life, it may be difficult to know what to leave and what to yank, especially if your work schedule is born from absolute necessity. We’re given some guidance in Hebrews 12:1 when the writer tells a weary group of first century Christians to “lay aside every weight and sin” so they could “run the race set before” them.
Clearly, all sin must be yanked. But what could he mean by “weight”? What does that look like in our lives? How about all the things we do out of insecurity, rather than living from the security we have in Jesus. How about all the things we do for approval and acceptance from those around us, rather than living from the approval we already have through Christ. Or all the things we strive for because we think they will make us happier, when we are called to be content and live with true joy.
The weights in our lives may look good from the outside, and it may be painful to yank them, but if they’re competing with the best things in our lives – the things God has truly called us to - for “nutrients” like peace, energy, true joy and satisfaction, then it’s time to eliminate them. It’s time to make room for the best in our lives to reach its full potential, and live by “the rest and renewal that comes from God.”
How might you be filling your life with things that actually weigh you down?
How does God’s desire for you to live a full and meaningful life by weeding out some unnecessary activities motivate you to do so?
Lord, you are always good and your instructions are always for our benefit. My crowded life is bursting at the seams, and so I need your help discerning what to keep and what to yank. Give me the eyes to see what is actually depleting me and the courage to pull it out. Help me to live in such a way that demonstrates my satisfaction in you. Amen.
1. Andrew Dearman, Jeremiah, Lamentations (New York: HarperCollins Christian Publishing, 2002), 155.