Monday, April 30, 2012

Faith of a Farmer

When was the last time you wondered if spring would ever come? Not in the ironic sense - really wondered if winter might last forever, something like the 100 years of winter in Narnia. For most of us probably never.

In Alaska I sometimes feel as though spring may never come. The days growing lighter and “break-up” arrives. It’s not really winter, not yet spring, it’s just one giant ugly mess. Breakup is finally coming to an end as the snow is rapidly melting daily.

 Most of America lives in the reality of four seasons, and expect the Earth to naturally cycle from winter to spring to summer to fall. We expect trees to unfurl new leaves this time of year because they're supposed to. But what if they didn't? What if the trees bloomed in winter when their new leaves would freeze, or what if their flowers matured into hornets' nests instead of apples? What if they didn't bloom at all?

I think of my dad, the farmer. He and many like him are at the mercy of the weather. He must wait for the ground to be not too wet, not too cold, then plant! Plant like mad to get all the seed in the ground in a timely matter only to sit and wait. Hurry up and wait—that’s the farmer’s way. It’s no surprise to me that the Christian faith has much to say about farms and farmers, crops and harvests.

I often wonder why so many have such a rough time with faith. Honestly I don’t know how anyone can survive without it. As a farmer, my dad really leans on his faith. Maybe that's why I see his faith lived out daily, because as a farmer one must live a life of faith. From crops to machinery, it’s a lot of work, all done in faith.

One cannot see the end result in the beginning. When a my dad is plowing the field to plant a crop there is nothing tangible to reap. It hasn't even been seeded yet, but there's a faith that a good crop will result. There's a faith that timely rains will come during the growing season. There is faith that the machinery will not break down [too much] and delay the process. There's a faith that the harvest will be good! All faith, believing in things we cannot see at the time. But one believes and gets started.

In many ways, our churches are also like farms. We plant the seeds of belief in the hearts of our children in the hope that those seeds will become fruits of faith. We are also given ministries and missions to tend, so that Christ’s work amongst us can grow and expand in our community. And we are each expected to bring a faithful harvest to God at the end of our lives, showing Him that we have shared our faith with others, and planted new seeds of belief in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind. We are each meant to be hardworking farmers of faith, so that we might expect the bounty of God’s blessings and receive an eternal share in Christ’s Kingdom.

As I wait for spring to return to Alaska, I can't help but look outside and be amazed. There are mountains galore. When was the last time you took a look outside? Consider that "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 8:1) and the Earth is the work of his hands.

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)

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