Recently I was staying at a friends house in the suburbs and it was a slow morning and it felt great outside so I went out on the porch and spent some time just staring. It is a new suburb, one that is built where the developers think the town will eventually be, meaning that it is basically a bunch of houses and streets surrounded by fields and forests. When developers make these suburbs they bring in big machines to create the topography they want, and are not always concerned about distributing the good topsoil evenly in every lot. So some houses end up with a lot and some houses end up with hardscrabble.My friend’s yard got the short end of the topsoil stick and had bald patches where the grass would not grow and weeds sprouting up through the patches where it would. I thought about what it would take for a person to bring that little plot of land back to life and what it would take for the land to come to mean enough to seem worthy to a person to do such a thing. It seemed like Abraham bargaining with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. “If there are 50 righteous people will you spare the city? 40? 20? 10? 5? 1?…” How big does a work of redemption have to be to be worthy of giving out lives to? If it is a large church? A small church? A household? A well? Large fields of land? A balding, suburban yard?
It struck me that God is the God of fertility. The God who makes the world makes it rich. What God does, we ought also to count worthy of doing. What he finds worthy to love we ought not to be ashamed to count as common. Perhaps even the work of saving a suburban yard from degradation is a work of redemption. God cares about every good thing, meaning his business is also making good soil. He built a world that keeps itself fertile. In an unfallen world there would be no barren lots, but we do not live in an unfallen world.
The church is called to beat back the fall wherever it is found, including in suburban yards.
What would it take to look at a patch of soil and believe saving it to be good enough for God? We often fall into the trap of wanting a larger work, but to God there are no larger works, there is only the work he puts in front of us.
“…You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.”
10 You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.”