Preparing the Ground

The mercury pushes 30 during the day now, and slowly falls to 20 overnight, the rainy season is behind us and the long, hot summer days ahead. The songbirds sweet chatter fills the morning air as the searchlight of the sun breaks the hold from the darkness of night. Its beams warming the ground encouraging the flowers and fauna into bursts of new growth.

The buzz of engines

As the end of May moves closer here at Caminho da Cruz in Central Portugal, the days become a constant buzz of two-stroke engines.  This buzz comes from brush cutters and the monotonous knocking of mostly Italian diesel-engined tractors as they meander through the local fields.  In this valley, they go threshing down the spring growth of wild grasses, weeds, thistles and thick brambles.

My brush cutter is a powerful 52cc petrol-engined strimmer, supported by a harness and steered with cow horn handles with tri-star metal blades instead of the bump and feed nylon cords.  The blades can cut cleanly through thick vines and woody growth.  But the time is coming when these steel cutters are legally no longer able to be used for the coming summer months as the risk of fire increases from the blades striking rocks in the ground sparking fires.

Steel Tri Star blade brush cutter

Preparing the ground

So, the end of May beckons which promotes this rush of preparing the ground. There is a legal obligation, which is heavily enforced to keep the ground around your property too low growth to reduce the risk of any fire spreading. The land here is terraced down from the flats in 13 sections to the bottom of the valley where the stream meanders down.  They vary in widths from 3 to 5 meters and each one being 40m at the top to 50m at the bottom and it has been many years since they have been looked after.  

The arduous, energy-zapping task

For 10 years or more the brambles, ivy and weeds have had the freedom to grow how they like.  Once they were terrace plots for growing all a family needs of fruits and vegetables. Now lays a jungle of 12 feet high thorny layered meshes.  But not for much longer, things are changing daily. The swishing of the brush cutter is a daily occupation, as is hacking with a machete at some of the thicker stems and with the heat, this quickly becomes an arduous, energy-zapping task. 

Terracing newly cleared

Pruning the trees

As a result at the weekend, I hired a local digger and rotating hedge cutter which has done a splendid job in as much as about 70 % of the land is now in a manageable condition, overgrown trees, figs, olives and peach trees are being heavily pruned with the chainsaw as I can get to them. There have been big changes to the growth that has been allowed to roam freely, the wood will be laid to dry,  stripped and stored for fuel. The newly shorn ground will be used for planting trees, plants, fruits and vegetables.

Bertire down near the stream

A season of assessment

The churches across the world are in an unrecognisable state as countries far and near uphold the lockdown and barring of people gathering in religious associations.  They are due to reopen here coincidentally at the same time as the ban on steel agricultural blades, but things will not return to normal, I believe. This is the season and has been time to assess what is wrong with the church, what is good and what is bad, and no matter how difficult the decisions are, they have to be made.

The old is gone, the new has come

Prepare the ground for the new season that we are about to enter, the old is gone, on with the new! In much the same way we can and must adapt ourselves in this manner, seeking the Lord for what are the weeds in our lives, the thorny brambles and ivy that hold us down and restrict us.  And the need to prayerfully request and petition in repentance for forgiveness and help to be set free from these shackles.

We must not return to the old expecting that all is well.  This is the time of preparation for the new. I believe that this a God-given time as people from across the world search for answers that are not found on the TV or the newspapers or on Google.  The answer to their questions are in the best selling book of all time, as the sale of God’s Spirit-inspired Word vastly increases, the Holy Bible is being opened in many new homes across the world.

Sow for yourselves righteousness

In the book of Hosea chapter 10:12, it reads; “Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the best Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”  Amen.

Might I encourage you today, believer, or not, to break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord. No believer can be in any doubt that these are the end times that we are living in and the Lord Jesus Christ’s return is imminent.  It is vitally important that our own personal life and our unity is put in order.

God bless

On another note, this week has seen the passing of the world-renowned Christian apologetic, Ravi Zacharias, whose intellectual understanding of the faith was second to none.  Last month it was Pastor Paul Morley, brother of the Pastor of the church I attend whilst in the UK, he was a teacher at the bible college I attended and brought to life the Apostle Paul’s journeys.  The month before that, musician, singer, church elder and friend, Alan Mills. All great men of God, locally, nationally and internationally. Our loss is heavens gain.

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