You’re probably familiar with the song, “Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.” The words are supported by Scripture. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:29).
I see God using a cultivation process similar to a farmer to bring about conformity to the image of His Son. We can draw some parallels between principles of cultivation in farming and the conforming process of God. God, the “Master Farmer” has a preordained process to grow and transform His “plants” into fruit-bearing plants. We, the plants, only have one role in the process, and that is to cooperate with the “Master Farmer.” To resist could mean a delay in growth or an uprooting only to be replanted in an even more challenging field.
When I think of cultivating, I get the visual picture of a field of green and luscious crops in long and perfectly straight rows. These plants grow and produce delicious food, because of proper cultivation by the farmer.
My parents had a large field that required a tractor and lots of “kid hours” to grow delicious vegetables and fruits. I learned some things about farming that stick with me today.
To yield good crops, the farmer starts with the right type of soil for the type of plant, fertilizer, water, and of course the seeds or plants. God supplies sun and rain.
Farming requires consistent, precise, and patience. Soil has to be turned and aerated. Regular de-weeding is crucial for a healthy crop. Some plants require special treatment and extended cultivation time.
We are similar to the plants because we need consistent, precise, and patient cultivation from the Master Farmer to make us like His Son, Jesus Christ.
The plants are dependent on the farmer for the specified cultivation process. So are we dependent on God for specific circumstances for change and growth.
- The farmer gives consistent provisions for the plants to grow and produce. Likewise, God gives us consistent provisions for our spiritual growth.
- God has given us His Word as a diet rich in nutrients so we can grow (1 Pet 2:2).
- God has given us His Holy Spirit to understand His Word, be convicted by His Word, and to have power to obey His Word (John 16:7-15).
- God has given us the church and church leaders to help us grow and serve (Ephesians 4:11-12).
- God has given us other “plants” to grow with, to be accountable to, to experience the love of Christ with, and to do the work of ministry (1 Corinthians 12).
- The farmer gives precise cultivation for certain types of crops. Some crops grow better in sandy soil or in clay soil. Some grow better in the sun, others in the shade. Some require pruning to produce better and more fruit. Likewise, God gives precise circumstances of life for each individual as we are conformed to the image of Christ. (James 1:2-4)
- God may allow winds and tough circumstances so we get to know and trust Him more. (Philippians 3:10).
- God may place us in soil that we may not understand but it fulfills His will for us and for others on the earth. (Matthew 28:19-20)
- God may prune us individually by removing things that hinder growth and production of more fruit. (John 15:1-5)
- The farmer is patient in the cultivation process because he knows that he will reap a good and profitable harvest if he doesn’t rush the process. Likewise, God knows the plans He has for us and He is very patient to fulfill His purpose for His precious “plants.”
- As He said to Israel, “For I know the plans I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
- The Lord is long-suffering and patient with our growth process (2 Peter 3:9).
A Personal Cultivating Experience
After 37 years of salvation and cultivation to be conformed to His image, I am still reminded of my struggles with the flesh. I was never a person who said “bad words” or cursed. However, the past few years, when under persistent stress and strain of life, I found myself uttering bad words under my breath. Though I wasn’t uttering the real vile stuff, nonetheless, I was whispering words that were not becoming of a Christian. No one else heard them but me and God…at least I hope no one heard me! God hearing me was enough embarrassment. I asked God for deliverance. He led me to return to a lifestyle of consistent and systematic Bible reading that I had established in previous years. Oh, I was reading my Bible everyday but I had fallen into a slump where I was not reading the volume that I needed to flood my soul. I needed to saturate myself with the Word outside of church and Sunday school. Initially I did a 75-day New Testament read. Then I read the Old Testament. Currently, to help my consistency, I am using a Bible App on my phone (YouVersion) that sends me reminders and congratulations for reaching my daily reading goals. If “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” I figure that 4-7 chapters of God’s Word a day can wash bad words away (Hebrews 4:12)! My mouth is doing well, thanks to the cultivating and transforming power of God’s Word.
What in your life could use some pruning? Be assured God will help you fix it as He conforms you to the image of His Son.