I could never be a farmer. The only thing I can plant is my tail on the couch.
But I know farmers. They work all around me. My house is next door to the farm headquarters of a farmer named Leech. (Or is it Leach?) He and his employees work from dawn till well after sunset on big green pieces of metal.
They make designs in dirt. They put little things in the dirt. Then it looks like they spray stuff on the dirt. Then green things grow. Rice. Cotton. Corn. Soybeans. All of these are a rock’s throw from my front deck depending on the time of year.
It looks like hard work. It’s supposed to be. It is the only job that God expressly said He would make hard. A very small thing can render months of money, sweat and acres of dirt useless. Too much chemical. Too little chemical. Too much water. Too little water. And don’t dare forget plant diseases. Did you know plants can get strange fungus spots just like humans?
How would it feel to gaze as far as you can see and observe months of effort to be in vain? I have never felt that. At least not about crops.
But haven’t we all felt like our efforts weren’t giving us the results we wanted?
I do. Even right now, I do. I feel like some relationships are pointless. I feel like my job is stretching my faith. I feel like I have wasted days.
I feel like it is harvest time and
there are no crops in the stinking field.
And then I am reminded of the two words at the beginning of the previous four sentences. “I feel.” I. Feel. My mind and emotions are hard at work raising my frustration and annoyance.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
I do not know where your herd is or how your olives are doing, but I know where your joy and strength should be. I know where mine needs to be.
This week, I was talking with a friend whose crops are worse than mine. She was discouraged yet hopeful. She recalled to me that she has a friend whose marriage is in shambles and another friend whose young child was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her observation was that in her “merely financial” trial, she felt God’s mercy. She gratefully recognized that her marriage is source of stability and her children are at this moment very healthy. She saw hope where she could have seen despair. Instead of resentment, she saw mercy. She said,
“God’s trials are often full of mercy.”
I don’t always see so clearly.
I struggle to see past dying fields of withered feelings. My once vibrant expectations now lay rotting on twice-plowed ground.
But Salvation is not found in the fulfillment of my self-centered dreams.
Salvation is Jesus. Hope is in a Higher Place.