It’s August in Indiana and that means corn around every corner. Where the modern world has not yet stomped in to plop down a strip mall or housing addition, there grows corn taller than most men.
The farmers rejoice because 2018 has been a bumper year for the farmer in Central Indiana!
My love of the country and farms came from my Grandpa Joe. Grandpa was a farmer who worked a couple hundred acres in West Central Indiana for most of his life. His love of it never died. To tend the land and his animals was a passion, his livelihood; it was part of who he was. If you were to look up farmer in the dictionary, it could easily have my Grandpa Joe pictured there. He was hard working, smart, steady, honest, strong and kind. Even his physical stature was that of a Midwestern farmer. Most days you could find him in his coveralls and boots. He was simple, solid and sincere.
Farmers live in two realties…
The reality of a bumper crop or the reality of devastation.
Farming has always been hard, even today when farming is down to a mad science. There are factors out of their control. A farmer heads into every growing season facing uncertainty. Will their hard work bring success or failure? From storms to rare crop diseases to drought, many obstacles play a hand in their life’s work. With so many unknowns and uncertainties facing them every year, they are given a choice. Will they trust or will they fear?
I loved hearing stories about my grandpa’s work on the farm. There was the time they lost their entire pig population to a rare disease. Sometimes it was a drought or other times severe storms that would nearly destroy all they had planted. But Grandpa always recalled the good times when perfect weather produced plentiful crops. He knew the work of his hands was truly left to God. While he worked the farm to provide for his family, he believed his work honored God while He cared for His creation. While there were years they nearly lost it all, there were years God blessed them beyond measure. Through every season, one defining characteristic of my grandfather stood out: he remained steadfast.
I think our work and our lives are the same. They rest solely in the Father’s hands. It’s easy to forget with our titles and degrees. When we succeed at climbing the corporate ladder or strive to earn more soccer mom badges, we can forget God has control of all that we do. Just like the farmer, we will all endure seasons of bountiful harvest and seasons of devastation and suffering. We all face uncertainties out of our control. It’s our choice how we respond.
Two years ago, in my grandfather’s final year of life, dementia had begun to cloud his mind. I sat at his kitchen table as he reminisced about days long ago on the farm. I loved listening. It just happened I was in the midst of a season of drought and devastation of my own. He stopped and looked at me with sudden clarity in his eyes and asked, “How are you?” I told him of the hard season I was in and asked for advice. That 85-year-old farmer looked me in the eyes and whispered, “There will be good times and there will be bad times. Stay the course and keep your faith. He is faithful, He always is.”
Steadfast…my grandfather lived in a way that exemplified this truth. He remained steadfast no matter the situation and whoever God had called him to be. I knew when he said those words to me, he really believed them because he had lived them.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
And so today as I drive past the fields, admiring the season of bountiful harvest, I ask myself (now before I’m 85 and looking back) will the same be said of me? Will I choose to remain steadfast in the midst of the good and the bad? Will “steadfast” be a defining term of my life, my family, my marriage, my friendships? Will this be my legacy for the next generation? Because the truth is that so often I struggle to remain steadfast. When the drought and devastation come, my first reaction is to run screaming, falling into a heap. But I know I am called to so much more. My response to life’s seasons must be a magnification not only of my faith, but more importantly of my God.
Dear friend let me encourage you, whatever season you currently find yourself in whether it seems to be a bumper year or a year of drought, I pray you will seek to remain steadfast, be immovable and rest in knowing the Lord is at work on your behalf.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58