Growing Toward God
There are times in our lives when we're reminded how little control we actually have. We plan, we project, we plot - and we should - but things can change in an instant and without prior notice. It's those times that reveal in what, or whom, we put our faith. This is daily life for farmers, year in and year out. Here's a firsthand account of what that looks like for Arlie Olsen, a Minnesota farmer. I hope his words will encourage and bless you!
"The Amish believe that farming is the only true occupation because it’s the best way to learn to be dependent on God, and learn how to grow closer to Him. Farming may not be the only occupation, but I do believe that farming, by its very nature, takes a lot of faith.
Faith is hope in things not seen and every farmer who has ever planted a seed knows what that’s like. We give the seed the best possible conditions for germination and the best fertilizer, and then we hope for something not seen. Most farmers have heard the saying, “You can lose your crop a hundred times before you harvest it.” That’s the best part about learning to walk with God everyday. Everyday, God gives us a new challenge and we have to trust him in order to make it to the harvest. In the Midwest, the weather changes everyday and most of the time, it’s not just what we would like. It’s either too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry, too much hail, too much wind and, well, you get the picture. It’s never just right. However, in my sixty five years of watching crops grow, I can only remember one real crop failure and two very poor years.
Perseverance and heart are poured into everything we do. You have to love sitting in a tractor or long hours and staying at a job until it’s done. Just as it says in 1 Corinthians 9:24, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize.” In the same way all farmers plan and plot to get a great harvest every year.
Learning to walk with the Lord everyday takes conscious effort. You get up, check the temperature, look to see which way the wind is blowing, and look at the forecast. Then you get a cup of coffee and read your devotional and pray for his blessing on the day’s tasks. You set your priorities according to whatever the morning brings and realize it may change with the clouds or the wind, the the Lord’s faithfulness remains and whatever happens, happens for a reason.
We are continually tested in many different ways. But testing builds character and character builds faithfulness. Trusting that the Lord wants the best for us, no matter how bad things look at the moment, takes a lot of faith.
At the heart of farming is a tender heart. Compassion has to be one of your spiritual gifts if you’re going to take care of animals or crops. Animals need a lot of care when they’re first born, and all crops start out as tiny shoots, peaking out of the ground. It’s like holding a candle in the wind and cupping your hand around it so it won’t blow out. Like helping a sow finish farrowing the last of her sixteen piglets and then making sure they all have a nipple, or propping a calf up on his wobbly legs so he can nurse for the first time. We very tenderly scratch the soil to see if there’s a sprout just below the surface.
In everything, we marvel at God’s creation and the miracle of new life."
Thank you, Arlie!