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.
Eugene Peterson, the pastor, theologian and author of many books and translator of The Message, once wrote, “The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at the...moment.”
We have definitely had the opportunity to put this into practice recently. During the past year, along with many others, we experienced the coldest, wettest and hottest, driest spells of weather. When it seemed that the ground would never be dry enough to take livestock again, the clouds rolled back and we experienced a summer of hot, sunny and dry weather. And while that suits some farms, it definitely doesn’t suit ours! No one likes to wish for rain when most people are enjoying the good weather, especially when you love hot weather yourself.
But when you turn cows into a field that appears to be orange and they look at you as if to say, ‘what are we to do with this?’, you can’t explain to them that their visit to the field is only to give them a rest from the dairy unit and that the first cut silage they are eating was really meant for the winter!
Thankfully, September and October provided tremendous growing conditions, which allowed for an extended grazing season and the replenishing of winter feed. So, as the autumn nitrate deadlines approached, we were looking at lush green fields, not ideal for spreading slurry.
In life, we experience many deadlines. However, there is one particular deadline for which we aren’t given a date – the time when our life on this earth comes to an end. This ending has physical and spiritual consequences. The words of the old hymn, written by Virginia W. Moyer, speaks to those who have not responded to the Saviour’s call. “For how do you know but your soul may be drifting Over the dead-line tonight?”
Perhaps you have rejected Jesus’ call for Him to be your Saviour because of the example set by His followers and have decided that Christianity is not for you. Sadly, as Christians we do not meet our own expectations let alone live the life filled with spiritual blessings that God intends for us. I urge you not to look at other people, but look only to Jesus, the Perfect One. We read in 1 John 3:5 “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.”
Jesus offers eternal, or everlasting life. So what will this ‘life’ be like? The Bible gives many insights into what we can look forward to. “In my Father’s house are many mansions... I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) a place where He will wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).
The book of Isaiah tells us we will have perfect bodies without illness or disability (35:5,6) and we will live in a new heaven and new earth (65:17). It will be a place where we will also build houses and live in them, plant vineyards and eat the fruit (65:21).
Most importantly, God will be there and, along with perfect bodies, our spiritual soul will be restored to perfection (1 Corinthians 15). C.S. Lewis captures the Christian vision when he said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
Charlotte Stevenson farms with her husband, Jim and son, James, near Kilkeel in County Down. She is a member of Mourne Presbyterian. Last Christmas Charlotte retired, having worked at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Assembly Buildings in Belfast for a number of years.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at email@example.com or call him on 028 9753 1234.