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.
Living in the country gives us the great privilege of actually seeing the seasons change before our very eyes.
Being raised on a dairy farm one of my favourite memories was that of the annual event of putting the cows out to grass for summer. Somehow, intuitively, the cows seemed to know the ‘time had come’ and became unhappy about being inside any longer.
So, when the day came, a field was chosen and it was ‘all hands-on deck’ for everybody to help guide the cows on their first outing of the year. The sunlight seemed to blind them for a minute or two, but as they came out they charged down the lane like race horses, bursting through the open gate into the field of fresh grass, some skipping in the air, some actually rolling around with their legs in the air – a hilarious sight to behold!
No farmer can ever get away from the changing seasons: God has so ordered this world He created, that seasons divide the annual cycle; ‘summer and winter, springtime and harvest.’
Life too has its seasons: childhood, adulthood and old age. There are seasons of prosperity and struggle, of joy and sadness, of good health and illness. In my own experience, a period of being unwell led to the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
So began a new season in my life: Hospital consultations, scans, tests, surgery, treatment and recovery. It was a season, which like the seasons of nature, I had no control over. Yet, in my season of illness – the shock, the uncertainty of the future, the reality of pain, I have found that God was always there.
Having come to realise my need of a Saviour and having put my trust in Christ many years ago, I knew He was entirely trustworthy and dependable. Jesus spoke to His disciples in John’s Gospel chapter 14 about His departure from this world to return to His Father, and they felt very troubled. He assured them that He is “...the Way the Truth and the Life” and that all those who trust and follow Him will join Him in His Father’s house – heaven.
He never promised that this earthly life would be easy or pain free, but only His presence and peace. Even though we walk through the valley of death itself, as the Psalmist King David said in that well known twenty-third psalm, “I will fear no evil” for the Good Shepherd is “with me”.
Seasons come and seasons go. For the believer, just like the cows in the cowshed, there will come the glorious moment of being set free but not just for a summer on the grass. This will be to experience the fullness and freedom of heaven, where there will be no more pain, sorrow or tears.
To be prepared for then, the season of getting ready is now. “‘In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Whatever season of life you are in, make this your priority now to repent and believe the gospel.
Ian was brought up on a dairy farm near Limavady. He served as a minister in Ballyroney and Drumlee congregations in south County Down and in Moneydig, County Londonderry. He has had to retire due to illness and now offers support and counselling to others going through a cancer experience.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the subjects raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234