A world of deadlines

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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.

In the world of farming there are an increasing number of deadlines to be met.

We are familiar with the VAT return, the tax return, the last day for cutting hedges, the last day for spreading slurry, registering the birth or death of an animal and grant application for example.

We tend to be driven by the fact that these carry penalties if we fail to meet the deadline. So often we struggle to see the benefits of deadlines. Each of us deals with them in our own way. Do these sound familiar: “The job must be done right now...I’ll get around to it sometime...I am sure that if I miss the deadline they’ll let me off this time?” If there weren’t deadlines there are many things we would just keep putting off until tomorrow.

Maybe you are one of those people who don’t like being told what to do and you try to set the deadlines. The bank loan is getting behind and you try to tell the bank about your new payment dates. Maybe the doctor has given you the news that you have six months to live and you try to tell the doctor, “I am going to beat it.” In those situations it is often foolish to think we can set dates. Maybe you have found yourself in those places and you have tried to bargain with God to get out of the difficulty:

“God if you change things for me, I’ll do...” Familiar? But we can’t negotiate with God’s deadlines.

We are told in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” We shouldn’t be surprised that in life, just as in farming, there are seasons or times for getting activities completed with penalties attached if the deadline is not met.

God has given us an opportunity in Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” When we seek and find God there are many benefits that flow into our lives.

Farming now - and post-Brexit - will continue to be filled with deadlines, penalties and rewards. The Bible tells us that God has set deadlines: for life, for death, for the start and for the end of the world. God keeps all His promises and always does things exactly on time. In 2 Peter 3:9 the apostle tells us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The good news is that God is never late and He never misses a deadline.

The opportunities and the pressures in farming are great, but in the race to meet a whole range of important deadlines for your business, God doesn’t want you to miss out on obtaining His salvation. Mark in his gospel asks the question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 18:32). No matter what you need to do today, remember that the most important deadline of all is to have found Jesus as your Saviour before the end of your life – and only God knows when that particular, but final deadline, is.

Trevor Boyd is the minister of First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church in the rolling County Down countryside. Married to Barbara the father of three is an ex-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 at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.