Life on the Farm Day 3: Growing Season
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7-8, ESV)
If you know my husband, then you also know that patience isn’t exactly his strength. He likes to move quickly, he does not like traffic, and he really does not like when something takes longer than it is supposed to. When we were dating, he had a very hard time waiting for me to get ready. After 18 years of marriage, however, he has learned to simply give in to the inevitable and tell me we need to leave 20 minutes earlier than we actually need to leave. When it comes to waiting for his crops to grow and produce vegetables, however, he is exceptionally patient. He knows the truth behind the saying “good things take time.” If you begin to harvest the crops too early, your yields will suffer greatly. In order for the crops to produce the most monetary value, you need to wait to harvest them until they are ready. And that requires time and patience.
While he is waiting for his crops to grow, Ben does not simply sit back and relax and hope for the best. He is busy caring for the plants and giving them what they need in order to thrive. This includes eliminating harmful bugs and weeds, running irrigation, and providing nutrients to the plants. This stage also requires a lot of prayer, because the most important aspect, the weather, is out of his control. He cannot provide irrigation for all his crops, and if the weather is hot for several weeks and there is no rain, the crops will suffer. Hail and wind from summer storms can completely destroy an entire field. Recently we had a small tornado run through his corn field which totally flattened the cornstalks. Although these things are not in his control, he continues to do what he can to help the plants in his fields, even when things do not go as expected. He also has insurance.
In our personal lives, we should constantly be seeking out areas of growth: growth in the things of God, growth as a parent, as a spouse, as an employee or employer, as a helper in our place of worship. What should we be growing in? “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). First and foremost, we need to constantly be seeking to grow in God’s Word. Just as Ben does not sit around and wait for his crops to grow on their own, we should not expect to grow in grace or the knowledge of Jesus Christ by sitting around and not doing anything. We need to spend time in God’s Word, spend time in God’s house, and spend time with God’s people. This is how we grow, how we eliminate harmful influences, and how we acquire the food we need in order to thrive.
Sometimes we may look around at others and feel inadequate or subpar in comparison to where they are in life. Our “growing season” may be taking longer than we want and we start to lose hope. First of all, comparison is the thief of joy, so I heartily encourage you to stay away from it. Second, remember that “good things take time.” Growth does not happen overnight. It happens slowly and steadily, as long as we are willing to put in the work. Remember how Paul encouraged the Galatians to sow to the Spirit and not to the flesh? He goes on by encouraging them to continue putting in the work. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). It is easy to become discouraged during a season of growth, but we need to remember that God’s timing is always perfect. As TobyMac says in his latest song: “He’s never early, but never late.” Be patient during your growing season and keep your focus on things above.