• Debbie Salter Goodwin

A Time to Scatter


Have you ever watched a construction worker jackhammer a sidewalk? The pulsing sound of metal drilling through stone is so deafening it requires protection for the worker’s ears. But ripping up hardened cement is only the first step. Next the broken pieces must be shoveled by hand or machine and taken away in order to build something new.

Sometimes I feel like someone took a jackhammer to the carefully laid pieces of my life. I don't respond positively to the demolition. The next step feels even worse. What has been destroyed must be taken away. That is the work of scattering. It can feels like someone took all the pieces of your life and dropped them from a crop duster, scattering them so out of reach that it is impossible to retrieve them.

It is true that some scattering is destructive and downright criminal. However, there is also the right time to remove the stony parts of life that impede progress, trip up movement, or prevent growth.

What grew on the stony path in the parable Jesus taught? Only shallow rooted plants that gave up quickly. The gardener serious about growing flowers or vegetables will remove the stones to scatter them elsewhere before planting.

Consider the work of scattering in your own life. Where is there overcrowded growing space? Where is there no breathing room? Or balance? Where have you forgotten that God’s purpose for you is not busyness or even productivity; it is abundance, life at its best.

I have been living through a scattering time when the pieces of my life that I depended on or hid behind were thrown so far away I will never get them back. Standing on the edge of a cleared life is downright scary. All the props are gone and I realize how helpless I am. I have to look for another blueprint and another Landscaper. I cannot rebuild by myself.

And that is the gift of scattering: the realization that life at its raw emptiness is a new field cleared for new purposes. That to spend my time looking for the old pieces is not worth the effort and probably impossible anyway. That when God makes all things new, He clears the field first.

If this is a scattering time for you, be encouraged. God sees emptiness as the raw material for new. He does not want a scattering time to disillusion, demoralize or defeat you. He’s clearing the way for His creative work. As God did in the beginning of creation, He continues to do for us. He takes all of our nothing-there and brings out of it something beautiful, sustaining, and satisfying.

Whatever a scattering time requires, as long as God oversees the process; the clearing away will bring something good in time. Time. Isn’t that what Solomon is trying to get us to see? All of the processes and seasonal rhythms that God uses to bring His best gifts to us take time. If there is truly time for everything and this is a time to scatter, then allowing this time to take its time is our part in the creative rebuilding.


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