Barren Places

Biblical Perspectives

By Dawn Kelley

“In the barren places of my life, I can be assured that God is there as He is when life is fruitful.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Here in the Southern states of the USA, we are beginning to see evidence of Spring arriving and I, for one, could not be more thrilled. The cold, wet Winter we had seemed to last 900 days. When I see daffodils and tulips beginning to bloom, I’m grateful Winter is over and thankfulsomeone had theforethought to plant those bulbs before it began. However, there is a smallpart of me that remains sad; not about leaving long winters behind, but about the drastic difference between my barren yard and the yards of those who dutifully prepared for Spring’s arrival with the expectation Winter would end and buried bulbs would eventually blossom.

My desolate yard is screaming shameful things at me and my neighbors probably shake their heads when passing my house. So, I’ll use the next few weekends to catch up on yard work I should have done throughout the year. I’ll probably purchase the more expensive, ready-made blossoming pots and console myself with the excuse that I have been busy. When I’m finished and my yard looks somewhat decent, I might congratulate myself for having such a nice-looking yard. I’ll definitely take a couple well-positioned pictures and post them on Instagram.

Metaphorically speaking though, there are seasons in our life when we treat our spiritual lives with the same neglect. But God’s Word is not necessarily a pre-manufactured blooming garden that can be bought at a store when we realize we need a bit of freshening up. I don’t say that to bring condemnation, but to express a spiritual truth: there are Scriptural seeds which need daily planting and watering in those barren places for a spiritual harvest which may – or may not – occur in the same calendar year. Sometimes, at least for me, there are passages (and worship songs) I keep on repeat all day, every day, for years on end until those seeds finally take root in my soul and grow up taller than the surrounding weeds. I guess my heart is more like Southern clay than fertile soil. Hopefully you, however, are working with a nice Garden Variety soil. But allow me to caution you as one who’s learned more from experience than wisdom: fruitful land can be cultivated into barrenness with nothing other than neglect.

Or… you may have a barren spot in your heart you are devotedly caring for, but there are no signs of new growth in what seems to be a wasteland. You may be in aseason when you’re steadily renewing your mind with His Truth, but even His Word seems dormant and lifeless. As one who has experienced this too and made it through, please don’t give up. Keep planting and sowing because Spring is coming!

Whatever season you are in, preach this Truth to yourself for as long as it takes: at just the right time, He will cause those barren places to be fruitful again.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.It is the same with my word.I send it out, and it always produces fruit.It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.You will live in joy and peace.The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.These events will bring great honor to theLord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” Isaiah 55:10-13, NLT

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