Long ago, Jim found his way down our farm road. He wore an expansive and brilliant smile. He told us he had been watching our operation for awhile, and he wanted to help, but he knew his back wasn’t strong enough for the labor required on the farm. But when he saw our old Byron 8600 bean harvester arrive, he felt compelled to step forward and offer his services. He was an equipment operator by profession, and he assured us that he knew how to take the “beast” apart, put it back together again, and fix anything wrong with it.
Little did Jim know, we had been praying about how to maintain this very bean harvester. We almost always relied on used equipment. (It would seem that farm equipment is made to last forever.) This combine was going to vastly improve our green bean harvest, but it had already served many years someplace else, and needed some serious TLC!
From that moment on, Jim has been a mainstay at the farm, helpful in countless ways. Yet, it is not just his skill with equipment repair that is so valuable. His love for the Lord and joy in faith are especially contagious. Anyone who has met or worked with Jim at the farm knows that his lips sing praise for the Lord pretty much continuously. Psalm 104:33 I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Jim struggles, of course, as we all do, with the challenges of life, which can derail the walk of faith. But before long, his smile returns along with a witness to God’s goodness.
Just recently, Jim showed us the strength available to a follower of Christ. He experienced a devastating loss the week before Thanksgiving. There was a terrible accident, and Jim learned suddenly that he would now shoulder the responsibility to father 3 of his very young grandchildren. He had already cared for an older grandson for most of that boy’s life. Now Jim would be starting over with three young ones, whose daddy had died.
Even in the midst of the shock and grief that Jim was experiencing, he cried out to God for help. Why did this happen? How would he have all that he needed to properly care for this new family? How would he be able to minister to their broken hearts, when his own was broken? On the night of the accident, after the effects of the news had started to seep into his being, Jim stepped outside. Not unlike Abram’s call from God in Genesis 15 to “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them,” Jim’s face lifted up to heaven in search of the good God he knew.
The next day, Jim came to the regular Bible study held at the farm before every Saturday harvest. He witnessed to everyone gathered that God did meet him in the night sky, and He gave him the specific encouragement he needed to love his family, be the father they needed, and to give God glory. Jim felt renewed in strength and recommitted to trusting God for his daily provision. Naturally, he broke forth in praise for the Living God. It will be a difficult road to travel, no doubt. But he knows he will not be on it alone. The children in his home - his new family – will be cared for by one who knows the Shepherd King. And everyone at the farm has been blessed and inspired by Jim’s faith, and by God’s pouring out of love in the time of need.
There are many mysteries in this life; the disappointment of not understanding can be difficult to bear. Yet, we have really only two choices in such times; to trust in God, or not. To not trust Him is to disregard all the evidence that He is the potter and we are the clay. To trust Him is to embrace His great love for us, without understanding the entire plan. Easy to say, hard to live it. Indeed, God’s question to Job: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:4), is still a timeless hard truth.
Later that week, as Jim and I talked, gazed at the night sky, and sought comfort amidst tragedy, we also recalled the faith affirming words of one our favorite hymns, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O, God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions , they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.
“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Great is Thy faithfulness!, Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see,
All I have needed,, Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Thanks be to God for his great faithfulness and his great mercy and love!
This article was originally published on Lancaster Farming.