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.
“They never breakdown when they are in the shed.” The accurate, if unwelcome, words of the neighbour who arrived as we were working to fit a new bearing on the broken down combine harvester.
Harvest is a very busy time on farms throughout Northern Ireland and one of the keys to a successful harvest is good preparation. Checking over and lubricating the machinery before the work begins, making sure everything is in good working order. However, no matter how well this has been done the breakdowns can still occur.
We prepare for many different things. People plan for going on holiday, weddings, the return to school after the summer and many other events in life. Farmers spend a lot of their time preparing for the winter ahead. Through summer and autumn, silage and crops are gathered in and stored to feed livestock over the winter months.
And as winter comes close, repairs are carried out to ensure good conditions for the animals and to prevent storm damage around the house and yard. Good preparation for what lies ahead is often the mark of a good farmer.
In the Bible the prophet Amos gives the nation of Israel this command: “Prepare to meet your God” (Amos 4:12). The earlier verses of this chapter tell us of various warnings which the Lord had given Israel by famine, drought, blight, locusts, plagues and war, but still they ignored God. Sadly, many people in our world today still seem to believe that they can ignore the Lord and what He says.
As a minister people often speak to me of the preparations which they have made for the end of their lives. It can be the contents of a will, the future care of their family, the provision of life insurance or even what is to take place at their funeral. All important details, but there is a preparation which is even more vital. In fact, it is the most important one of all.
Each one of us must heed the words of Amos and prepare to meet the Lord. We can make all the plans we want for what we would like to happen on this earth after we leave it, this is relatively easy, and we must certainly be prepared for what will happen to us after our physical death.
The harvest speaks to us of the provision, which our loving God has made to enable us to prepare for life on this earth. Giving thanks for this will be at the heart of our harvest services. What we also need to thank the Lord for is His provision for our eternal spiritual needs. God loves us each so much that He has sent His only Son Jesus to be our Saviour and Lord.
The simple command from God is that we should repent of our sin and trust in Jesus for time and for eternity. This is the only preparation which we can and must make for what lies beyond the grave and God loves us so much He enables us to make it.
So as you make plans and prepare for winter, remember the words of Amos, “Prepare to meet your God.”
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 one grandchild. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.