I wish you knew Ed Bean. My story from many years ago would mean more to you if you did.
Growing crops or hay requires good soil, good rain and good timing. If any one of those three ingredients are missing then the crop will fail. So I walk out in the field and look around at the withering crop and wonder. I think I have done all my homework and I can’t figure out what has happened because I should be standing knee deep in Coastal Bermuda grass; a highly palatable forage for horses and cows. Instead of walking through a lush, verdant, green field, I am standing in a wilted, yellowish-green, scattered field of nothingness.
An old truck appears on the edge of the pasture and spits its passenger in my field. At about 5’6” Ed Bean looks like 140 pounds of twisted, blue steel. He walks with an ambling gait from spending too many years on a horse, his lips are a permanent brownish hue from gallons of tobacco spit passing through their portals, and his eyes are light blue and take you back with their clarity.
“Howdy,” he says as he gets closer to me, “your field looks like “beep*&%$^!beep” and you wanta know why?” Well how could you have a field that looks like the manure he just called it and not want to know why?
“Sure, Mr. Bean,” I say, “tell me what’s wrong with my field.”
Then he starts his discourse by telling me all the things I already know. “This ‘chere
field is a good field,” says he. “Ol’ man Chandler had it for years,” and this point of information makes me wonder how old Mr. Chandler had to be to be labeled “old man” from a man who can probably remember getting running water in his house. “It’s got a good lay of the land and there’s a natural draw acrost it to hep’ keep the root rot from settin’ up,” which is very important I am gathering from the way he is shaking his head so violently I think it may come loose. “I seen (I love the way he never used have or has in front of the word “seen”) them fertilizer trucks in here last week, so I knowed you put out lots of fertilizer,” and, of course, he was right again.
“You know whatchur problem is?” he queried from behind eyebrows shaggy enough to hold a squirrel’s nest. How can you not want to know what your problem is from someone who mercilessly butchers the English language and yet is so wise?
“No, Mr. Bean, I don’t know what my problem is. Please tell me.”
“You didn’t test your soil to see if it was healthy enough to grow sumpin’ right now. Boy, you don’t ever try to grow a crop without testing your soil first. The soil test will show’d you what you need in the ground. You done put out the wrong mix of fertilizer and what you thought was going to grow your ground has set it back and made it sick,” and then he finished his discourse with a good spit.
Well, Mr. Ed Bean was right. A soil sample is taken from strategic spots from all over the field and then mixed together. The results of testing that soil sample will tell you how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, N-P-K, the three numbers on your fertilizer bag, you need to apply. My grass was deficient in nitrogen and was never going to grow right till I got the field balanced right. As the manager of the farm it was my job to sample-test the soil before expecting a harvest.
God is a little like Ed Bean. He samples our hearts to see if the soil of our spirit can stand to be blessed. When God tests the soil of our hearts He finds out if our motivations are correct, if our desires are Godly, and if our devotions keep us in proper balance with Him. If I show a pride factor in who I am or what I have accomplished it will show up in the “soil-of-my-heart” test. And God won’t bless bad ground. He’ll let me wilt, lean over and yellow, never reaching my potential, because God won’t waste His resources.
The Bible teaches that seed falls on all sorts of ground, one type being called “good ground.” That is where the greatest production takes place. You won’t know if you have good ground without a soil test. And when God tests your heart He knows what it will take to make you productive. Don’t despise the fertilizer trucks showing up with healthy doses of character, philosophy and wisdom. You need it to balance the soil in your heart.
So I guess God and Mr. Ed Bean do have something in common except I don’t think God chews tobacco.