Matthew 8.1
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.

Reflection: Cultivation Requires Planning
By John Tillman

“As the park is to the city, so the Word is to life.”

These words have communicated the vision of The Park Forum since the very beginning of our ministry, drawing inspiration from Central Park in New York City. The park’s natural-seeming environment is an engineering marvel of the 19th century, and nearly every bucolic hill, meadow, treeline, and body of water are the result of artistic, and purposeful design.

Frederick Law Olmsted, and Calvert Vaux’s winning concept prevailed over 32 other submissions. The design represented a microcosm of New York State, with the southern section showcasing more formal features, evoking the city and its suburbs, and the northern parts reflecting the more rural upstate regions.

The park’s website describes in detail the enormous amount of labor that went into achieving those plans, describing it as one of New York’s largest public works projects:

“After blasting out rocky ridges with more gunpowder than was later fired at the Battle of Gettysburg, workers moved nearly 3 million cubic yards of soil and planted more than 270,000 trees and shrubs.”

No park or garden is “natural.” Even the garden of Eden was planted by the Lord after the creation of the plants and animals. God, desiring to walk with humanity in relationship, knelt in the earth and planted a garden. We, in our pursuit of a deepening walk of faith, need to follow his example of supernatural cultivation.

Our faith depends on God. But for a mustard seed faith to grow, it must be cultivated. For a fig tree to bear fruit, it must be cared for. For a branch that is connected to the vine to be “even more fruitful” it must be pruned. What you harvest in your spiritual life, depends not just on what you sow, but how you care for it.

Cultivation may yield a harvest of beautiful sights, such as trees, fields, and flowers. It may yield a harvest of nutritious food, such as grains, vegetables, or fruit. In either case, it begins with planning before planting.

Do you have a plan to cultivate your spiritual growth?

The Park Forum is a tool that can help you, and those you share it with, follow a plan to plant and cultivate God’s Word in the midst of daily life. Invite someone to walk through God’s Word with you, experiencing spiritual rhythms that will bring a harvest of faith.

Prayer: The Greeting
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, God reveals himself in glory. — Psalm 50:2

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 8 (Listen – 3:06)
Matthew 8 (Listen – 4:09)

Additional Reading
Read More about Light for the Next Step
Walking daily in this Word, meditating on it, breathing it in and out, making it a part of our thoughts and our prayers, charges an inner light of the Holy Spirit that we can trust to give us the next step.

Read More about Meditation in Spiritual Rhythm :: Throwback Thursday
Begin with reading or hearing. Go on with meditation; end in prayer…Reading without meditation is unfruitful; meditation without reading is hurtful; to meditate and to read without prayer upon both, is without blessing.

How far will you travel in God’s Word this year?
On January 1st we restarted our two year Bible reading plan in Genesis and the Gospel of Matthew. Join us on the journey. We read the Old Testament over two years and the New Testament and Psalms each year.

Read with us at a sustainable pace. Subscribe and invite friends to join you using this link.

Where will a journey through the Bible take your faith in the coming year? Jesus calls each of us, saying, “Follow me.”