Not many of us are farmers these days. Not that long ago, most of us would have been. And the perspective of a farmer is much different from that of other occupations. A salesman might work on a big deal for a few weeks; a doctor sees a patient for thirty minutes and a stock broker is ecstatic or miserable on a second by second basis. But the farmer thinks in terms of seasons. Long and hot or long and cold, months at a time, six months or more, seasons are his measuring stick.
My father and mother grew up on farms and they still remember most of what occurred in and around the family farm. There were big events like the planting and the harvest or the smaller, more frequent occurrences, like milking the cows or butchering the pigs. There is a rhythm to farm life that demands that you plan a little bit ahead but stay in the moment. You must be prepared for the coming of the harvest even as you plant, but you can’t milk the cows a few extra times today in hopes of skipping this chore tomorrow.
Look to the Future—Stay in the Moment
The farmer and the Scriptures are in sync, they both have a look to the future but stay in the moment perspective. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Time is required, patience is necessary, trust in God is essential.
What farmer plants a row of corn in early April he does not, in mid April, return to the field and yell: “Just a sprout? Grow! What’s wrong with you?!” He knows that this is foolishness because experience has taught him that this is the nature of corn. The rhythm of life all around him is slow and steady and so that guides his expectations and imbibes patience in his soul.
But we non-farmers, we city/suburban folk have a much faster metronome. We pray and expect prayer (A) to be answered by solution (B) in less time than it takes to read this sentence (C). We work and expect an immediate reward. We practice and expect instant expertise.
But God works in seasons. His work in and through us has eternal consequences and He is without a beginning or an end so we can excuse Him if He thinks in a bigger picture than we do.
You Can’t Skip Seasons
Another reason to adjust our thinking is the cold reality of life. We are born and are infants, very unlike the other creatures on earth, for a long period of time. A year to two years. Then we are toddlers and unable to communicate very effectively for another year. And then we are small children and then we are pre-teens and then we are teens. And on and on. Each “season” brings with it certain obvious blessings and challenges. And we cannot skip any of the steps along the way.
That’s what should curtail us the most, the foolishness of skipping steps or returning to previous ones. We don’t let our five-year-olds drive and we don’t ask our grandmothers to do back flips. While those are the obvious ones, we do, when others aren’t looking, try and fudge it all a bit. So the tweens try and pass for teens and the middle aged try and pass for young adults.
Spring Will Come
If you are a farmer in the midwest or north you know about long hard winters. There is nothing in the soil and nothing to do toward the success of next year’s harvest except repair the tools, change the oil in the tractor, order the seeds, and wait. The coming of spring is inevitable even when it seems as if winter will never end.
But things are happening in winter (if nothing else, the soil is resting) just as they are happening in the winters of our lives. Those challenging times when the kids are all young or we’re stuck between having children who need our help and parents who need our help. Or a period of sickness in ourselves or a loved one. Seasons change and there is purpose for each season we are asked to walk through.
If we had a fast forward button on our lapels that would skip us ahead of the long wait in line or the semester at school or the days of illness, most of us would invariably skip through most of our God-given lives. When being honest, there isn’t much that we really want to endure. Eat a Snickers and skip ahead to tomorrow when we’re going to the lake and then skip ahead a week to my birthday party. But unless you’re hungry, Snickers won’t satisfy and if there are no average days to walk through then extraordinary ones lose all their magic.
When you start looking at your life the way God does, in seasons and not in seconds, you will be surprised at all that has happened while you were not paying attention to it. That value of a journal and pictures and reminiscing is the perspective it grants you. We don’t see our children grow but that mark on their bedroom wall was an inch lower last year wasn’t it? And isn’t Daddy now a bit more patient while measuring said child?