Patience is such a challenge for most of us.
We don’t like waiting for much of anything. There is that piece of demandingness that lingers in us long after we are toddlers. We usually want ___ NOW! The challenge of putting something on hold seems to be a lifelong learning laboratory for us.
One of the things I admired about my dad was how patient he was about nearly everything in life. As I consider what he did for much of his life, I see how that occupation helped shape that in him. A significant part of his life centered on running his family farm. Even as he was older and working at other jobs and a major part of the farm was sold, he continued to plant a large garden. Fruit trees of all kinds, and berry bushes of several varieties were planted and tended on the ten acres he kept of the original farm.
Farming is often an unsung and under-appreciated occupation that young people today don’t think much about and don’t usually choose as an occupation. Yet it is vital to our survival and the economy of any country.
Farming may not appeal because it is very hard work with long hours and uncertain results. Farmers are held hostage to the weather despite their best efforts. The careful preparation of the soil and its nutrition, the quality of the things planted, the tending of the young plants and trees, the elimination of weeds and pests that attack, and more, must come before a harvest results.
As a child growing up and watching all this, I didn’t really appreciate the significance of all that. I very much enjoyed the results, however.
Nothing can compare with the fragrance of my dad’s smokehouse filled with slabs of bacon and ham, the taste of fresh veggies picked earlier that day from our garden, or a warm cherry pie made with cherries picked from our own trees.
Even so, the lessons I observed from those years and the fruit in my dad’s life have provided me with a treasure trove to glean from.
Farmers must learn to hang on to hope in the spring when the fields and gardens are being tilled and prepared for the seed. They must hang on while they wait to see what comes from the soil. They must wait and hang on when there is too much rain or not enough rain, when there is too much heat or it comes at the wrong time or when an early or late frost destroys that hope.
Farmers also must learn to let go of the many things over which they have no control and how that might destroy their income until another year.
Unless farming has been in your background, these are things most people never consider or appreciate.
As I recently read It’s All Under Control, the author, Jennifer Dukes Lee, listed some powerful reasons to hang on. If you haven’t read her book, you might want to pick it up (and maybe the Bible study as well). Here is a portion of that great list:
“Hang on. Yes, it’s hard, but it might not be time to let go.
Hang on. You might be the miracle someone was praying for.
Hang on. This might be only a season, with relief around the corner.
Hang on. A great crowd of witnesses is cheering you on.
Hang on. When you hang on with bravery, you emotionally strengthen others who are struggling to hang on themselves. You’re showing them that it’s possible to do hard things.
Hang on. If you are uniquely positioned to do something to make the world a better place, even if it’s hard, you should do it.
Hang on. For your marriage. For your kids. For your church. For the people that your ministry bravely serves. For the hurting. For your friends who don’t know if they can hang on anymore.
Hang on. Because Jesus will meet you in the middle of your hardest battles.”
When you consider the wealth of illustrations that can be made regarding farming, it isn’t surprising that so many appear in scripture. It’s clear that the Lord doesn’t want us to give up.
And so we wait.
We hang on.
And we let God be God.
We look to the proper time, the harvest, and his return for us from the earth He placed us on and asked us to steward.
We look to Paul’s words in Galatians 6:9 (NIV):
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”