Have you ever been bone-tired? Growing up, nearly everyone had a garden, even if just a small one and most people used a rototiller to break up the ground in the spring. I’d never pondered what someone did before the invention of rototillers or when one was broken down or otherwise not available. But my grandmother certainly knew.

Strapping and energetic and all of fifteen years old, I was drafted into grandma’s rototiller militia. Mom sent me to grandma’s house where grandma was holding something with a handle like a shovel but instead of a blade, it had four tines. After a quick demonstration of the luxury features of this tool, grandma handed me the spade and directed me to turn over the soil of her entire garden. That was a lot of hard work. After a few hours, I was close to finishing up for grandma when my mom came down to inspect my work. I thought relief was in sight, but oh, was I mistaken because mom directed me to bring the spade with me when I returned home.

Mom had demarcated an area of our backyard for her garden and instructed me to spade that up as well. This had long since stopped being fun. It was hot, the ground was hard and dry, and the roots made turning soil difficult. It seems like I was laboring until suppertime. At last, I was finished. That may well have been my first full day of hard work. I didn’t have any difficulty falling asleep that night. However, the next day was Sunday.

Back in those days my sister and I each had newspaper routes. The overstuffed, bloated, ad-filled Sunday morning early edition was the bane of paperboys and girls. Each paper weighed between one and three pounds depending on how many ads were stuffed in it. Multiply that weight times the number of customers on a paper route and you’re walking around with a boat anchor slung over your shoulder. About five in the morning, mom woke my sister and me to deliver our papers. As I started to move from the bed, I discovered voices of pain squeaking from muscles and tissues all over my body. I now understood why dad took naps when he came home from work!

Now that I’m decades older I don’t think I could do the amount of physical labor I put in back then. And if by some miracle I did, I don’t think I’d be getting out of bed for many days. Still, I’d rather be tired and sore than weary and dreary. Exhaustion may at times make the bones ache, but weariness can be soul subterranean. Proper rest and some stretching can help with bone tiredness, but where do you turn when your soul is worn and weary from problems, conflicts, stresses, trials, disappointments, discouragement, and wave after wave of hard knocks? How will we ever have strength for tomorrow’s loads if we keep digging up previous ones? My first observation is that in such times we need to drop the spade and stop turning over in our minds all our problems.

How do you drop the spade? First, we must recognize that we, by the repeated focus of our thoughts, are disturbing the terrain of our soul as we keep reliving our woes in row after row of the residue of disturbed and painful feelings. These repetitions blister our souls and sap our strength, but they never plant anything helpful. In gardening, one drops the spade when they move into the next phases of planting. Disturbed soil is not useful until it is repurposed by planting worthwhile vegetation. Likewise, we need to put down the spade and put our efforts into planting seeds of love and hope by turning to God in faith. In other words, read the Bible and implant God’s promises in your heart, mind and soul. Then pray and invite God to turn the barrenness of the things causing discontent, discouragement, and weariness into the fertilizer for a triumphant hope-filled future. And after you’ve planted the seeds of your victory-in-Jesus-garden, tend it, hoe away the weeds of worry, sin, or bitterness that would choke your harvest of hope. As you work it, watch it, and wait making sure that you receive a steady influx of the light of God and the showers of blessing to be found in Christian fellowship, worship, and loving and serving others. God does His best work taking what is too much for us and turning it into something so incredibly good that it eclipses the pain and toil that preceded it.

Contact Pastor Lamb at icumc@yahoo.com.