Learning from the land
How often do you see a 'farmer's perspective' in an end
times newspaper? Well, I'm a farmer -– and don't go stereotyping us. You
know: 'typical farmers are always complaining about the weather, the price of
stock or the Government'. The truth is, those types of people exist in every
walk of life -– and if you listen to them long enough, you could be excused for
thinking that the great tribulation is already underway.
I count it a privilege to be a farmer and enjoy the lifestyle
it gives me. One of the things I enjoy the most is when I can see a spiritual
principle illustrated or mirrored in the natural world.
From time to time, I, like most pastoral farmers, need to
renew the grass in a paddock. The ravages of time, insects and stock in wet
weather may have left a paddock still green and growing, but not nearly as
productive as it could be. A hard decision has to be made -– whether or not to
renew the paddock. It's a big job and involves getting rid of all the old
grass by ploughing or spraying. We then drill in expensive seed and hope that
there will be enough rain for the seed to germinate - but not so much that the
exposed, unprotected soil is washed away. In the meantime the animals might be
struggling to find enough grass because you are a paddock short. Eventually, if
all goes well, your efforts are rewarded with the sight of new green grass
growing two to three times faster than the old pasture would have.
The principle I see at work is that of losing something to
gain something better. Mark 8:35 "Whosoever wants to save his life will lose
it, but whosoever loses his life for me and for the Gospel will save it." If I
am prepared to give up lots of time and money in order to reap the uncertain
rewards of a paddock that I hope will grow more grass, how much more should
I as a believer be prepared to give up, in order to reap the rewards
guaranteed through living sacrificially for God. If we just love those
who love us - as the non-Christians do, or give away only those things we don't
want anyway, no faith in God is required whatsoever. But if we
follow our Lord and Saviour, and choose to be a bit like Him, we need heaps of
We will need to know that God is a rewarder of those who
diligently seek Him. Jesus suffered the shame of the cross for the joy set
before Him, and we are told in Ephesians 6:8 to "serve whole heartedly as
if serving the Lord, not man because you know that the Lord will reward everyone
for whatever good he does." I don't think we need to speculate on the nature
or quality of God's rewards. Surely what God gives must be better than any
earthly reward we might seek after?
Here's a question. Shouldn't we be prepared to serve God
simply because of our love for him? Well... the reward idea wasn't mine, it
was God's. Check the Scriptures for yourself. There are so many exhortations
for us 'to receive heavenly rewards.' Perhaps God knows us too well to rely
on our 'love', and would rather we learnt to rely on His. We show our faith
in his promises by making decisions and sacrificing what we have in this life,
looking forward to what God has in store for us.
The picture is 'God as a provider'. We are told to seek
first His Kingdom and His righteousness - and all these things will be given to
us as well. I'm sorry if this does not sound holy, but if God requires something
of me which leaves me short of food, drink, clothes, a place to live, friends or
companionship, then I need to know He is looking out for me. And if I'm short of
any of these -– 'it isn't because God's arms are short' - there will be a
very good reason.
Does this principle of 'losing to gain' frighten you a
bit? That's only natural.
We just need to get to know our heavenly Father better - we
are actually not taking risks at all.