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.
For farmers, as for everyone else, warranties and guarantees are very important.
When you buy a tractor or a piece of machinery the dealer tells you about the warranty. For a certain period of time the product is covered for repair costs.
Perhaps it is a new feed, chemical or other product you want to use. The salesman comes to the yard and gives you his whole pitch! He boasts that if you use his product the cows will milk better, the bullocks will grow more quickly and the sheep will be healthier. He will then point out all the trials and research which have gone into the product and promise that the results are guaranteed.
However farmers are canny people! They know to read the small print. If you don’t have the machine serviced at the correct intervals or use the recommended lubricants, or even if you attempt a repair yourself, then the warranty may be void. If you don’t use the feed or chemical in the proper quantities or the right way then the results are not guaranteed.
In order for the guarantee or warranty to be maintained you have to fulfil all the conditions – any deviation and there will be no comeback. You may even have fallen foul of the ‘taillight’ guarantee. As soon as the taillights of the salesman’s van go out of sight the guarantee is over. Guarantees and warranties are promises which are only of any use for as long as the person - or company making them - is willing and able to support them.
The Bible gives us many promises and guarantees from the Lord. These are guarantees which can be relied on completely since God always keeps his word. In John 10:28 Jesus makes three connected promises regarding his sheep or his people. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, no-one can snatch them out of my hand.”
“I give them eternal life...” No human guarantee can be an eternal promise. A company can go bust or a person die, with both the promise ends. God’s promises are eternal because He is eternal. When we come to Jesus, repent of our sin and ask for His salvation, God promises us eternal life and He is able to keep His promise. If we want to live in Heaven forever, then we must trust in Jesus.
“...they shall never perish...” Tractors and machinery rust and decay, other products have a sell by date beyond which they cannot be used. Those who trust in Jesus will never be lost or destroyed. They are kept by God’s mighty power forever.
“...no-one can snatch them out of my hand.” Rural crime is a big issue today. The new tractor can be stolen if not properly secured. When we trust in Jesus we are held securely by Him. No-one, in fact nothing, can separate us from the Lord. His loving grip on us can never be broken.
Guarantees and warranties are important, but read the small print! Remember God’s guarantees to His people have no small print, no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ because God is not looking for a way out of them. God always keeps His word. When we trust in Jesus as our Saviour we are His forever – guaranteed!
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.