Canyon Walls against a Blue Sky

Soil Speaks

At the first site on our first day touring Israel this past January, I took a picture of . . . dirt. And then later the same day I took another picture of . . . more dirt. Why? Well, why not?

Soil Samples

Here are my two shots for your visual edification:

Do you see any differences?

Loess is windblown sediment, making it fertile ground because of its silt content. Limestone is rock, and therefore not so good for growing much of anything.

Because loess is a looser mixture of soil particles, water is more available, roots can spread out and grow deep, and aeration is good = happy plants.

Take a look at the agriculture spreading out in the loess soil of the valley below Tel Arad:

View of agriculture from Tel Arad

The plants growing in Ein Avdat, on the other hand, are found almost without exception either where the rock has fallen in an avalanche and broken up into much smaller pieces, or next to the riverbed.

Sparse Plants Growing in Canyon of Ein Avdat

I say “almost,” because there are a few examples of something different. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see plants growing right on the side of the cliff face! What is going on??

If you go back to high school science class, you may remember that limestone is rock formed from sediment, and contains a high volume of calcite. It is partially soluble, and water can make its way through the limestone to create hidden caves and underground aquifers. Where an aquifer comes close to a cliff face, plants can make use of the nearby source of water and grow.

What do these two examples have to do with soil speaking??

By its very nature, the soil tells someone “in the know” where to find water.

If there’s loess beneath your feet, there’s water below. Dig deep enough, and you’ll find it! The well outside the city gate of Tel Beer Sheva was dug in ancient times to a depth of 227 feet (69 meters). I’m sure it took a while to dig that far, but they knew that if they just kept at it they’d hit water!

If you’re in an area of limestone, look for plants growing out of cliff walls. Water’s not far beyond the surface.

Life Lesson from the Soil

Jesus compared the human heart to soil in his parable of the farmer. Different soils yielded different results from the seed that landed on the ground (Luke 8:4-15). He also promised a never-ending supply of living water to anyone who would come to him (John 4:14; 7:38).

The invitation to come to Jesus still stands, and the living water he offers is still available! There’s no need to dig 200 feet down into the earth to find it, or search the canyon walls for scruffy plants drinking from aquifers. He gives it freely. All we need to do is accept his offer.

Not only will we receive all the spiritual refreshment we need, we’ll also become sources of refreshment to others, and the soil of our hearts will produce a great harvest of new life!

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’

John 7:38 NLT

And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

Luke 8:15

The soil of our hearts speaks loud and clear. Without the living water freely offered by Jesus, life can be quite the desert experience. But add that living water, and beauty springs up all over the place!

The invitation is yours today, friend. How will you respond?

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