Posted by: Brad Stanford | September 7, 2009

Lessons From The Field

Today was busy: morning prayer time, morning work, lunch at the church with some great servant men, back to help finish building shelves for the den/tv room. Then I went out for two hours of brush hogging.

I don’t know what was more tiring: the physical labor, or trying to download everything that God was saying.

First, I decided to go out under the 4 o’clock sun, thinking that I can program at night, but I needed daylight to clear brush. There was a little shower about 20 miles north of us that was drawing in the wind, so I had a nice breeze. I kept my eye on the storm and it did what it had done the previous hour – just kind of hovered around and moved randomly, but not towards me. It wasn’t long, though, before the sky was covered in clouds, and I was protected from the sun.

Lesson 1: Do what you can at the right time, and don’t be afraid of the conditions you’re stepping into. God covers His people.

Next, I made sure to have my worship playlist ready to go this time. I also made sure to lock the iPod so that it wouldn’t change songs on me accidentally, like last time. As I was listening to Matt Redman’s Facedown, many of the lyrics matched up to what was happening in reality. My favorite was when I was getting covered in dust, pollen, and ragweed, Matt was singing, “We are breathing the breath that you gave us to breathe to worship you…” I thought about how I went into this scenario ready to clear brush no matter what, and how I was wearing a dust mask this time. The breath I was breathing was not choking me.

Lesson 2: God equips us for the air we’re going to be working in, and He teaches us with experiences. Sometimes an experience is solely for the purpose of teaching us how to do it right the next time. Not having a mask and not locking the iPod were lessons that will not soon be forgotten.

(When Matt started singing “…I fall facedown…” I got a little nervous. But no one was hurt in the clearing of the field today. :^)

I finally started getting an overview of just how rocky this land was. There are literally tons of rock that can be harvested for walls, fences, edging, and even some small tabletops. At first, I was overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of me. But I realized that God has started to equate work with hearing Him, so He’s sweetening the work deal a little more each time. If it takes a year to clear the rocks, then that’s a year of being side-by-side with Him. I’m down with that.

Lesson 3: God often will not make the work easier, He will simply make it worth doing. The Bible refers to Jesus suffering through the cross, “for the joy set before Him.” The work that I do is being done not because the work is easy, but because the joy on the other side is sweeter than southern iced tea.

God was reminding me that He did not call me to a perfect place that needed a little fixing here and there. He called me to a place that was rocky and full of weeds that needed a great amount of attention. Indeed, big cities think that when a small town goes under, all we lose is a roadside gas station and a place to stop for a restroom break. But the truth is the density of the city is tied to the people and production that comes from small towns. Part of my work is to help clear away some of the underbrush, encourage the ignored, and change rocky soil into productive soil. Which might mean just selling rocks for awhile.

Lesson 4: Take the time to work your own field. Find its boundaries. Know its composition. And don’t see it like it is, but what it’s supposed to be. Continue to remove things that can’t be a part of that destiny. Do it every day if possible.

I finally got a lot of the brush around the pond cleared out. The pond is somewhere around 20′ X 12′ X 3 or 4 feet deep. In its current state, it is a mosquito resort (though I haven’t really seen any mosquitoes to speak of – not like in the ‘burbs), and I was tempted to fill it in. But when the satellite internet installer came out and had to dig a hole for the dish post, he informed me that much of this area is solid rock (he ended up tying the post to the house because he couldn’t dig deep enough). Suddenly, the mosquito resort became very valuable. Someone has already done the work of digging out a pool, and there is a nice rockbed that flows down to it. In my mind, I see cascading water running down the rockbed that the little ones can play in while Mom and Dad and older kids swim in the zero-entry pool. (Remember, too, that we plan on opening a bed and breakfast as a stepping stone of our Hope Canyon project, so this pool will be important to visitors.)

Lesson 5: Unkempt places that are barely accessible may be your greatest asset. Same goes for people.

Then, there were multiple times that my discipleship relationships came into play. One, was the voice of my friend Todd. “Move while there’s faith,” he used to tell me. This refers to how long it takes to get all fired up to do something. If you find yourself willing to do something difficult, even at an odd time, follow it. There may not be an opportunity that sweet again. I was trying to save the brush hogging for after 6pm, but I moved while there was faith. By the time 6:30pm rolled around, it was raining. I would’ve been shut out. And my parents are coming down this week, and I wanted them to see as clean a field as I could show them. Moving while there’s faith is really about following God’s direction in a given moment.

Lesson 6: Discipleship is the most valuable type of relationship. You might sow hundreds of hours into someone, but you will reap thousands, if not millions. Look to invest deeply into people.

I was more confident in operating the machine today. I knew what size rock it could go over, I knew that it had guards to protect the blade, I knew what to do if I hit a rock. I also knew that my field was probably clear of critters and snakes, though it’s always best to keep an eye (and ear) out when possible. But these factors allowed me to work faster today. The very back corner of my field which, was once inaccessible and unfamiliar, is now accessible and no longer undiscovered. (Which is good – we need to walk the property and place stones at the corners and pray over the place, and that’s been waiting on me and my brush-clearing).

Lesson 7: It is good to create reasons to use the tools that God has given you, so that they get more effective in your hands each time you use them, be it a hammer, a pen, or a pat on the back. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes confidence and efficiency.

There were more lessons, but you get the idea. It was like walking through an exhibit with someone pointing out all the coolest trivia about it. Each new row was a new lesson. Each lesson increased my faith. I still have no idea what He’s set me up for. I do know that I am the happiest I have ever been.

Since no one knows in advance how many sunsets they get to see, I plan on squeezing every living moment out of each day, and passing along as much life to others as possible. As Solomon would say (Eccl 5:19): “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.”

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