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 a break from tradition, I’ve decided to try my hand as an arable farmer by growing a few acres of fodder beet. It’s not a common crop in Northern Ireland but one that we last grew on our farm about 20 years ago.
Rich in sugar, the beet roots provided a very nutritious feed for our livestock over the winter months; the only snag was the added workload. Without a harvester, every Saturday afternoon was spent pulling beet for the week ahead. Not surprisingly, a cheap beet harvester is now top of my shopping list.
So far I’ve taken some soil samples to determine lime and fertiliser requirements and I’ve sourced the seed, sprays and fertiliser that I need to get the crop established. I’m now waiting for a couple of dry days in early April to get the fields cultivated and the seed sown. One lesson this new venture has taught me so far is patience.
As a sheep farmer there is always something to be done, whether that’s checking they are well, moving them to another field or treating sore feet - always something. But with cropping, it’s about being prepared in advance and waiting patiently until conditions provide the opportunity to get fieldwork underway.
Throughout the Old Testament we read that the people of Israel were also waiting patiently. They were waiting for the arrival of God’s promised Messiah, the One “who would execute judgement and justice in all the earth” (Jeremiah 23:5). They had been waiting for many generations.
However, when the Messiah - God’s Son, Jesus - was born into a poor family from Nazareth, the witness of the shepherds and teaching of John the Baptist fell on deaf ears. Many listened intently as Jesus taught and watched as He performed wondrous miracles, but still they failed to recognise who He was. Despite waiting for so long, many people missed the opportunity that God had given them.
It might seem strange that God would allow the long-promised Messiah to be crucified like a common criminal, but it was actually part of His plan. God freely offered His only Son as a sacrifice to pay the debt of our sin. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it, “For our sake He made Him [Jesus] to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus knew Himself that He must one day be put to death, as He explained to His disciples: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:23-24).
As we celebrate Easter, the great news is that Jesus is not dead – He is alive! The cross is empty and the tomb is empty, Satan has been defeated, sin and death have been overcome and God’s saving grace is offered to everyone who believes in the risen Christ.
Jesus has promised He will return again and bring His people to be with Him in heaven (John 14:3). Today, do you know this Jesus? Are you waiting patiently for His return? If not, take the opportunity that God gives you now to put your trust in Him.
Ronald Annett works for a local animal feed company and helps out on the family farm in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains. He is a member of Mourne Presbyterian Church in Kilkeel, County Down.
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.