Every morning, I stand at the front window of our house, looking out over the gentle slope of an Iowa farmfield rolling down toward the road. Our crops are vibrant and green, and they wave a morning greeting in the breeze. There’s always something so hopeful about that.
But then, as I scan this field, I see the sad sight that greets me morning after morning: a bald spot in the middle of the field, where crops should have been planted but weren’t. It looks like a giant scar, or a 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 corn and soybeans due to unrelenting rains that kept him out of the field. Three 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 spring, we read news reports like this one on our iPhone news apps: “U.S. corn planting this spring has crawled at its slowest pace in 40 years. It now may be at a standstill.” We saw the headlines come to life in our own community and on our own farm.
It felt like a sort of vandalism, like Mother Nature worked tirelessly to destroy the perennial hope of the farmer. And if we dug down deep into the whole matter of things, it felt like God had turned His back on the farmer while the vandal roamed unchecked.
I suppose some farmers lifted their hands to the sky, saying “Thy will be done” to a sovereign and holy God. Others felt cheated, wronged, and wholly frustrated.
All of us were in the middle of a hard but important lesson: farming is an act of faith. Like my husband says, “I didn’t learn surrender in a church. I learned it in a field.”
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. You’ve probably heard a sermon or seen a social media graphic that reminded you it’s your job to plant the seeds, and it’s God’s job to make them grow. Quite often, that is a pretty fitting metaphor — that is, if you can actually plant those seeds.
But what about the fields you can’t even get to? What do you do when you’ve been called to steward that which God has given to you, but you find yourself on the edge of your field with fistfuls of seeds that will never make their way into the ground?
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. Lord, why can’t I get to the field?
What then? What do we do when the cynicism creeps up, like weeds on a bald spot of a 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. It compels you to look out on your fields, believing that in another season, another time, the fields will open up for you once more.
In time — if the seeds that God has placed in your hands were intended for those fields rolled out before you — they will open. I promise you, they will.
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.
I believe it as sure as I’m standing at the window today, looking out on a field in the heartland, knowing that in due season, we will plant again.
As for me, I will always have hope.
Psalm 71:14 (NIV)
We dwell in hope. That’s what the people of God do — we hope. -@dukeslee: Click To Tweet