The road home winds through miles of farms with cows, and freshly-plowed and fertilized fields. The aroma of manure, damp earth, and alfalfa fill my senses. The smells remind me of my childhood, a pinto named Sparkle, and the Gaskel family. They ran a farm nearby, and my parents would drive over to visit on Sunday afternoons. We would play in the stable, or in the house with Bobby and Patty, their kids, while the adults talked in the kitchen. The sweet odor of Sparkle’s hide and tack returns to my memory as I drive into the hovering dusk.
I daydream as I drive, about the farmers who work these fields. Farmers have a rigorous, relentless schedule. They get up before dawn and work all day. By the time I drive by at night, the farmhouses are already dark. I wonder how their bodies get used to never slacking off, or goofing around for a few days.
How do people develop the relentless, ascetic self discipline it takes to go on farming day after day, year after year, for generations? How do any of us ever get to routinely doing “whatever it costs.” Farmers are closer to understanding “going all out for Jesus” than I am. “Whatever it costs” is easier talked than walked.
My friends Curt & Vi are like that. They’re up and working out every day before 6am. They work really hard in other peoples’ homes and commercial buildings all day, and then come home to their own family chores and responsibilities. They’ve been going “full out” for their country, their faith community, and the Lord their whole lives–in the US, in Africa, and wherever their jobs and circumstances have sent them. Whatever they’ve tackled, they’ve always done “whatever it costs”, “for as long as it takes”. They’re faithful, fruit-filled disciples.They tire me out just listening to their stories…
So, as I struggle along through this latest challenge, I am seeing what it takes to get through anything you face– in their lives, and in the livelihoods of all these farmers as I drive back and forth to work. I don’t always model that dogged self-discipline myself. The reality is that my body aches, my soul flags, my heart tires, and sometimes, I just wear out. But their example and encouragement help me get over myself. I wish you all those same kinds of friends, motivation and help! I love you, even though I don’t see most of you, and I pray for you all.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:11-13)