Rain, Surrender, Hope and Miracles
Farming is the most humbling of professions. The notion that we are in charge here is quickly smashed by relentless and unwanted rain. The thing we despise in May … is exactly what we pray for in late July.
I ache for my husband, and for all the farmers across the USA and Canada. They stand at their windows, arms crossed over their chests, watching as rain puddles in swamped fields.
Over and over again this weekend, the farmers at church were saying, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Today, out of spiritual necessity, I drove these country roads, praying for farmers everywhere. Then, when I got home, I re-read words I wrote in my book, “It’s All Under Control.”
“Farming is putting yourself in a position to trust God. It’s a way of life in which you can’t miss the truth: God is God of the clock, God of the calendar, God of the weather, God of the to-do list. God alone knows when the rain will come, when the heat will rise, when it’s time for the seed to push up from the dark into the light.
A lot of people have romantic notions about farm life. But hard things lie beneath the idyllic overlay…
Scott says he has no choice but to trust God. For years, he’s gone around this farm saying, “God’s got it.” And when he says, “God’s got it,” he is talking himself into the truth. That’s a form of active trust — which is like giving yourself the gift of future faith, in advance.”
So here we are. We are farmers: at the mercy of God, relying on the grace of God, certain of the care of God.
My husband always tells me that he didn’t learn the art of surrender in a church. He learned it in a field.
Farming is constantly putting yourself in a position to trust God. This profession requires the knowledge that God is in control, whether you are standing under blue skies or rainclouds.
Today, my husband finally stepped into the tractor to plant. Standing here in this field, I prayed for him. And I prayed for every other farmer, and for other every spouse who stands in the shadows, asking God for His great mercy.
This year, farmers have faced historic delays in planting due to unrelenting rains. That’s on top of an already shaky set of circumstances: low prices, rising costs, trade disputes. It’s no wonder farmers feel battered. It’s no wonder that the phones at the farm-crisis hotline won’t stop ringing.
Some people wonder why farmers keep going, in a profession with so much risk and uncertainty.
Farmers keep going because farming is more than a job, it’s a way of life.
Farmers keep going because, like my husband, they are working the same fields that their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers worked.
Farmers keep going because they feel the call and duty to take care of all that God has asked them to steward.
Farmers keep going because, to them, dirt is more than dirt. It’s potential. It’s life.
Out here on the farm, we live where we work, and we work where we live, and you can scarcely tell the difference, … because we carry all of this life and love and hardship, like dirt under our fingernails and in our hearts.
So today, I pray for the farmers. For the skies above to be blue. For the ground below to be dry. For the equipment to work, and for the markets to flourish. And for every farmer with a hand upon a wheel to know that God truly is in control, and that He has called them to the field — a place where we grow more than crops, but where we also grow in faith.
This is God’s promise:
“The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you” (Deuteronomy 28:8).
Today, my husband stood on the edge of a soggy cornfield when a stranger pulled onto the farm yard. The stranger wasn’t from around here. He was dressed like someone from the city, showing up in a shiny car — clean, not like the way a truck looks from driving the muddy, rutted country roads around here.
The stranger stepped out the car door and held in his hands the most unexpected surprise: a paper bag filled with cookies, along with a note.
“Cookies won’t make it better,” he said. “But we wanted you to know we understand what you’re going through.”
The guy was from the city … from the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. And he had left the city for the day to drive around the countryside with cookies and notes. He had zero motive. He came only to deliver hope to farmers like my husband, who are really struggling right now.
The note read: “We know the ag sector — this region’s number one industry — is struggling. We recognize your hard work and perseverance through one of the most difficult times the ag industry has ever seen.”
In an instant, this stranger became our friend. Simply because he cared. Simply because he saw someone who was hurting. Simply because he understood the basic human need for community.
You might not be a farmer, but I’ll bet you know the gift of being seen, of being heard, of feeling like someone who doesn’t even know you truly cares. Or maybe you know what it’s like to leave your comfort zone, like that man left the city, to make sure someone who is struggling feels a little bit less alone. What a priceless gift!
We all need to know that we belong to each other — whether we are city folk, farm folk, whatever folk. No matter where people live, work … no matter what we believe … we all belong to each other. And in a hurting world, that can make all the difference.
Today, I stood at the edge of this field, knelt down and snapped this photo. I wanted to capture what a miracle looks like.
Four weeks ago, this field was a soggy mess. Like most farmers, we were kept out of the fields by unrelenting rains. The sun came, not always as hot and plentiful as we wanted, but it came just the same.
And then, little by little, we were able to plant. Conditions weren’t ideal. Some crops were planted straight into the mud. We had to skip over whole patches of ground that won’t get planted at all this year.
Everything is late, and growth has been spotty.
So this is not a picture of an ideal field with ideal growth.
But look at it there… the miracle. The crops are growing, thickening over the rows so everything is green and touching. There is something quite beautiful and hopeful about that.
Some people say that the word “miracle” should be reserved for big things, like surviving a near-death experience. But Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
So I choose to call this a miracle.
You might not be a farmer, but I am guessing you plant seeds in your own way — seeds that you hope will produce good fruit, stronger faith and everyday miracles.
May our fields be an encouragement to you to keep planting — even if you’re dropping seeds into the mud.
It will come in time. The field in front of you, and the seeds cupped in your hands, were intended for you, by God’s design.
And when you do see growth, take a moment to pause at the edge of your field. Snap a picture. Say a prayer. Hold the moment close so you won’t forget the gentle bursting forth of an everyday miracle.
Every morning, I stand at the front window of our house, looking out over the gentle slope of our land. As I scan this field, I see a bald spot in the middle of the field, where crops should have been planted but weren’t. It looks like a giant wound, a reminder that, for a season, all was not well.
My husband, Scott, is a crop farmer. And like farmers across the heartland, he was unable to plant some of his crops due to too much rain. Months later, in the middle of a field, there remains this ugly, bare spot, where nothing was allowed to grow, because we couldn’t plant the seeds.
All of us have been in the middle of a hard but important lesson: farming is an act of faith.
You may not be a farmer, but I’ll bet you know what it feels like to look out on what God has given you and see a wound in the fields you’ve been called to plant.
Perhaps, for you, the inaccessible field looks like the heart of a wayward child who won’t even text you anymore. Perhaps it’s an unfulfilled dream on which someone closed a door. Perhaps you’ve tried to plant seeds in a flailing ministry or a fractured marriage, but you can’t reach the field.
This is what we do: We stand at the window, and we dwell in hope. That’s what the people of God do — we hope.
It takes great courage, but we wake up each day with hope. We accept that disappointments happen, but we don’t lose hope.
A single bit of hope is a very powerful thing. In time — if the seeds that God has placed in your hands were intended for those fields rolled out before you — they will open.
Until then, cast your seeds where you can. Wait for the time to enter the fallow fields. But never lose the hope given to you, in the name of the One who gave you the seeds in the first place.
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