One of the oldest and noblest occupations on earth belongs to those who labor in the soil. We call them farmers. My heritage during my growing up years belongs to what is often referred to as the “Great Plains” of our country. Another description commonly refers to it as the “bread basket” for supplying agricultural abundance. Generally, the Great Plains comprise that area which is west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains. It’s huge! Beautiful country for raising grain. It attracted my grandfather to this country about a century ago. Emigrating from Denmark, he brought his bride and three children to this country during the great depression. He was a farmer in Denmark and he planned to be a farmer in America. America had more land and an opportunity to grow. More promise for a young man with a growing family. As a young man, my grandfather shared with me that his favorite song was “America, the Beautiful”. Those amber waves of grain were true….he found that here. My grandfather was a farmer and he was a noble man. Grateful for his courage, hard work and his sacrifice. Characteristics very becoming of farmers.
While never holding the official occupation of being a farmer, I was very fortunate to be associated with many who did. My grandfather, my father, my friend, my friend’s fathers and many more. You see farming permeates most of life and business in the Great Plains. It’s the main thing and much of life and business revolves around the seasons of the year. The spring brings a new season of planting. Moving into summer comprises fertilizing, cultivating and irrigation to help the crop prosper. And, of course, the autumn season turns into harvest where the crop is taken to market to be sold. Winter is a time of rest, repair and getting things ready for the next season when the whole process starts over again. And so goes life for the farmer year after year. An annual cycle that repeats during their life time. Repetitive? Yes. Boring? Not! Farming is anything but predictable with the weather being one of the greatest variables that will keep your anxiety and even your blood pressure rising. Another can be the unpredictability of the markets and commodity prices. Will there be a gain or a loss this year? A farmer’s life is filled with risk and reward. And yet, the farmer must carry on year after year. Sowing seed to plant a new crop with the hope that THIS year will be one of great abundance, great weather and great markets.
In one of his parables, found in the gospel of Mark, chapter four, Jesus uses the life of a farmer to illustrate a principle of the kingdom of God for his disciples. Jesus tells the story about the farmer who went out to sow his seed. Some falls on the path, and the birds ate it up. Some seed fell on the rocky places where there was little soil. It quickly sprouted with the sunshine but was soon scorched because it had no root. Other seed, fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants so they did not bear fruit. Still other seed fell on good soil and sprang up producing a crop thirty, sixty, a hundred times what was sown. The twelve disciples who were following Jesus, asked him to explain the parable for them. Jesus replied, “The farmer sows the word.” Jesus knew that they were going to experience many different types of “soil” in the hearts of men. The key for them was to keep on sowing the word of God. Season after season after season. Just as the farmer who plants a new crop each year. Faithful, hopeful and looking forward to the harvest.
The way of a Christian is like the way of a farmer. We are to sow the word of God, in season and out of season as the apostle Paul would say. We do not know when, how or if the seed we have sown will grow. For God is the one who makes the seed grow. We must be faithful to keep sowing the word. Not only in our own life but also in the lives of others. Just like the farmer. It’s a noble calling.