“He dug it all around…” (Isaiah 5:2 NASB)
This aspect of God’s garden preparation dealt with soil compaction. That happens when dirt is compressed by outside pressure. The pressure can come from regular foot traffic, wagons, and farm equipment. When that happens water and roots can’t penetrate it as well and fruitfulness suffers. Research verifies that germination rates drop, plants are less healthy when they do germinate, and yield less than they otherwise would. That isn’t a temporary thing; that same research has found that compaction and its results last for years after the pressure is gone. Compaction, and its adverse effects, are more likely and more pronounced when soil is wet or not rich in organic material (like clay). See Soil Compaction: Causes, Concerns, and Cures (Univ. of Wis. 2008).
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with compaction. The best are preventative: to avoid pressuring the soil as much as possible, by adding organic material, and by letting it regularly be broken up by crops with strong tap roots and through the freezing and thawing of winter. Once compaction occurs it can be undone by tilling the soil and adding organic material (the more the better).
We see the same dynamics in our lives. We are all subject to pressures that can compress us to the point of diminishment if we do not respond properly. They may be big stressors or just relatively minor, but repetitive, ones. Like soil, we tighten up and that makes us less likely to bring forth new things, and makes whatever we bring forth less attractive and less fruitful. And that will be more pronounced if we don’t have a lot of the spiritual equivalents of organic material—prayer, scripture, and time with other believers—in our lives.
Scripture describes that phenomena, and ways to deal with it. Let’s dig into it and see what we learn:
Pressure and its results:
Breaks from pressure filled routines:
The spiritual equivalents of organic material: