What is it all for?

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Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

​How many times have you been talking to people and the question comes up, “What is it all for?” Age, health, and the future, may be words that trigger this particular conversation.

Farming and hard work go hand-in-hand, and people are often weighing up whether to farm or not. For those who stick with farming there is no doubt that things have changed, but there is still a lot of daily work to get through, including the computer work.

In a year like this, when the weather isn’t suitable, finances don’t always stack up, animal health has been affected, or work becomes increasingly difficult due to lack of help, it isn’t easy. Planning how to pass your farm on to the next generation also becomes more complicated, especially when the family are attracted to different careers. What is it all for? Why am I doing this when there is no-one coming after me?

Collecting silage in the fields near Ballycastle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Pic: Steve Allen Photo)Collecting silage in the fields near Ballycastle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Pic: Steve Allen Photo)
Collecting silage in the fields near Ballycastle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Pic: Steve Allen Photo)

Sometimes others raise the question, “What are they running themselves into the ground for? They have neither chick nor child. If I was them, I would take it easier.” Maybe the better question is, “What is work all for?”

To get the proper meaning and purpose of work we need to turn to the Bible and discover in Genesis 2:15 that, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” In God’s plan, you and I have been created to do work in a way that contributes to His creation and cares for it, whatever our occupation.

So, it may come as a surprise to you that work is not firstly about making money. Work is part of being human, and it is about loving God, loving your neighbour and loving the planet. Whether we work on, or off the farm, or are looking after the family home, our work matters to God now and for eternity. A large proportion of our life is devoted to our work and much of our accounting to God on Judgement Day will be about our work and how we did it. To that end, the advice of Ecclesiastes 9:10 is, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”

For those who, by faith follow Jesus the carpenter, your Christlikeness is best seen not in what you do on a Sunday, but how you work on a Monday. Our work and our worship are both meant to be a witness for Jesus Christ and both should show others how God wants us to live. God wants us to understand that we are working and living to worship Him remembering that our good works will not get us into heaven. To be assured of heaven, and our reward for doing our work well, the Bible tells us to know and depend on Jesus Christ alone, through the salvation that only He can offer.

It would be a pity to work so hard and not know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. When we next hear the question, “What is it all for? we can answer that it is all for my Heavenly Father who has promised in Revelation 22:12. “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Is He your Heavenly Father and are you ready for His return?

Trevor Boyd is the minister of the congregations of Tobermore and Draperstown in the shadow of the Sperrin Mountains in County Londonderry. Married to Barbara, the father of three is a sheep breeder and previously sold animal health products across Northern Ireland.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at [email protected] or call him on 07938 488 372.