Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
Depending on what part of the country you are in, you may be fair in the middle of a first or second cut of silage. If you’re a silage contractor, and it’s dry right now, it is likely that every customer wants you in their field yesterday. If you put your own silage in there may be a bit less pressure on you, as you can cut when the crop/weather/your drivers/you are best ready - although that list is not always easy to line up! When dry weather is scarce, the pressure is on everyone.
Sometimes that pressure can carry us through a whole week in a blink until we get to Sunday. The temptation is strong to carry on cutting into the Lord’s Day. “No good ever comes of it”, a very busy local farmer said to me recently, and I believe he is right.
Only God has the infinite power to keep going continually without taking a rest, and yet He chose to stop and rest after six days of making all things (Genesis 2:2-3). In so doing He established a pattern for us, made in His image, to follow. He didn’t stop because He was tired. He stopped because He knew we would be. Centuries later, He enshrined this creation ordinance in the Ten Commandments, because we often need a firm command and reminder to take a break (Exodus 20:8-11).
Years ago, my family brought the silage in with a silage wagon that was prone to breaking a chain in its moving floor. Unfortunately, it usually broke when there was a heavier load. We had no choice but to grape the whole load off by hand and weld the broken link.
Taking moderate loads in the first place proved the best way forward. Through the discipline of taking a day per week to rest and worship God, we are safeguarded from overloading our hearts and minds. It is an act of faith to believe that God will look after our business interests when we step back from them one day a week, keeping us from the trap of an endless, breathless cycle of activity. Well used, we will come to “call the Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13).
Our appreciation for the Sabbath is not complete, however, until we understand how it points us to the end of time and to the rest that God invites us into in the new heaven and the new earth. The writer to the Hebrews explains, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). In the Old Testament, Joshua led the ancient nation of Israel into the Promised Land, which was billed as the land of rest (Joshua 1:13).
Now we have Someone much greater to lead us into God’s eternal rest, the Lord Jesus Christ. His greatness is emphasised by the movement of the day of rest from Saturday to Sunday - the day on which He rose from the dead. He rose after having finished His work of suffering for our sins. Now, He is able to lead you into eternal rest with God, if you are willing to confess your sins and rest in Him alone as your Saviour and Rest-giver.
Rev. Norman Smyth is married to Linda and they have three children. The son of a County Antrim dairy farmer, he is the minister of the rural congregations of Clogherney and Sixmilecross in County Tyrone.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the subjects raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.