A world of change

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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.

We live in an ever changing world. Change is occurring in every part of life and nowhere is this more so than on the farm.

Embargoed to 0001 Monday October 22''File photo dated 10/09/15 of a combine harvester in a field. The Government's post-Brexit agriculture plans will have a "serious impact" on farms in Northern Ireland, MPs warned. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 22, 2018. The Government's proposals will see money redirected from direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which are based on the amount of land farmed, to a new system of paying farmers "public money for public goods" - principally their work to enhance the environment and invest in sustainable food production. See PA story POLITICS Brexit NIAffairs. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Embargoed to 0001 Monday October 22''File photo dated 10/09/15 of a combine harvester in a field. The Government's post-Brexit agriculture plans will have a "serious impact" on farms in Northern Ireland, MPs warned. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 22, 2018. The Government's proposals will see money redirected from direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which are based on the amount of land farmed, to a new system of paying farmers "public money for public goods" - principally their work to enhance the environment and invest in sustainable food production. See PA story POLITICS Brexit NIAffairs. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Just a few days ago I was working in the study when I heard the sound of an engine from the barley field across the road. The combine had arrived.

As someone who used to drive a combine I was soon away from the desk and out to the garden to watch it working. It was a wonderful sight, as the mighty machine sailed majestically up and down, gathering up the ripe grain and leaving the straw in its wake. And of course, there was the smell of the harvest, the scent of the newly mown crop coming across the road as well. I could have stood there all day watching, but work beckoned.

Harvest practices have changed dramatically in the past few decades. Many of the older generation of farmers still remember the days of the binder and the thresher, which my colleague, Rev Dr Patterson, wrote about last month. Days were spent in the field stooking the crop before it was stacked before moving it to the thresher. Then there was the shared experience of the threshing, with neighbouring farmers gathering together to help each other, and enjoy the craic of mealtimes.

On dairy farms things have changed as well. The bucket and stool have given way to the pipeline in the byre. These, in turn, were replaced by the milking parlour, which has become ever more complicated and technical – and now we even have robots doing the milking! The same is true in just about every facet of farming, change keeps coming.

In the Bible, God tells the Israelites in Malachi 3:6, ‘“I the LORD do not change”’. The message is repeated in Hebrews 13:8 where we read, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ God does not change, and it is very important for us to remember this, because it means that His abilities and attitudes do not change.

The God who loved people in the Bible, still loves people today. God has shown His great love for the people of the world by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross so that we might be forgiven. God still shows this same love by calling men, women and young people to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. When we do this, the Lord gives us the promise of an eternal home in Heaven with Him.

And of course, we also know that the unchanging God always keeps His promises. We live in days of much change, particularly in our national life, and the uncertainty and chaos of Brexit. Many farmers are anxious about what this might mean for them. How, for example, will it affect markets for produce and what will it mean for farm incomes?

In all the changes of life we can trust in the God, who loves us and who gave Himself for us on the Cross at Calvary. In the turmoil of life – with or without the complications of Brexit - the words of Psalm 46 really hit home, ‘“Be still and know that I am God...”’ When you trust in Him, you can rest in Him. Do you know that rest today?

Rev David Reid is minister of Ardstraw and Douglas Presbyterian Churches in West Tyrone. He is married to Valerie and they have four children and two grandchildren. David was a full-time farmer for 18 years before being called to the Ministry.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.