Posted by: Brad Stanford | November 6, 2009

Two Lessons

Quite tired after a very productive day, but I will note two lessons from today.

The fields of sorghum in the valley behind our house were harvested last week. For awhile, some cows were allowed out to eat up the leftovers. But yesterday, a lone tractor begin winding its way around the periphery of one of the three fields. It was long work – I imagined how bored or distracted the farmer might get while driving long straight lines and always making left turns. I was hopeful he had a source of music with him at the very least.

I left the scene and went on about my work. Hours later, I came out to find that the tractor had finished the first field, and had begun on the second. I was thoughtful about the cycles of preparing, planting, harvesting – everything in its right time. A faster tractor would not bring the spring any more quickly.

A friend from church came by to visit today. I just met him last night at church. I showed him the prayer platform from which i had been observing the aforementioned tractor. I had been there because I was trying to imitate Daniel’s lifestyle of praying three times a day. I am certainly jealous of Daniel’s character and influence, by the contradiction is that I’m not jealous of his prayer habits or his suffering in the lion’s den, though it turned out ok. Anyway, my new friend calmly reminded me not to put the cart before the horse. That Daniel’s prayer time was not what created his character, but the character created the prayer time. Naturally, I was quick to point out that I’m not trying to checklist it, but participate in it – get my attitude right, I suppose.

Nonetheless, his reminder continues to ring true: true worship out of reaction to what God is doing and saying is much more valuable than mimicking a hero of the bible or a church father in order to facilitate change. Indeed, I have always been bothered by those who try to copy every habit from every famous saint in an effort to get holy, or even just improve a little. But I also see how easy it is to consider. I’m wanting to expand my participation in the kingdom, and change my character in ways that I know I’m supposed to. But I’m forced to consider the tractor: a faster tractor won’t bring the spring any more quickly. I must prepare, plant, and harvest character, so that I may eat the fruit of it.

Trying to harvest a field that was never planted would be the same effect.

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