Farmers learn an unforgettable truth from an early age. “Make hay while the sun shines.” In other words, drop everything else because NOW is the time to shift gears and adapt to new realities. Being weather-dependent teaches farmers to be flexible and roll with the punches better than most. We can learn something valuable from farmers in our modern, high-tech, squeaky-clean world.
At one time, 25% of North Americans lived on the farm, close to the land and nature. Today, less than 3% of the population feeds the rest of us. I grew up on an egg and cattle farm. I also ran a small carrot farming operation one year in my mid-20s. In spite of my farm background, I was far from at peace with change and uncertainty in my youth. If we are blessed, life matures this into each one of us.
I already see my seventeen year old son struggle with adapting to change. We recently renovated our kitchen and now half the cupboards and drawers are in different locations. He mutters regularly about having to change his routine, from finding a cup to putting away the clean dishes. He readily admits that he needs his apps on his iPhone to be in the exact same spot so that he doesn’t have to look at his phone in order to do what he wants to do.
On the other hand, my 84 year old father just lost his driver’s licence. His response? “I’ll just take a taxi and walk. Maybe I’ll even buy a Harley when I sell my van,” he joked. After a lifetime on the farm and walking with my mother to the end of her 12 year Alzheimers battle, he digested this sudden loss of freedom in a heartbeat.
The truth is that we humans are creatures of habit. I was 25 when I ran my carrot farm for a year. During that year, a wicked windstorm wiped out half my crop in mid-July – too late to replant. For three days and three nights I sweated in anguish, looking at a $20,000 line of credit that would take me 5 years to repay if I folded my operation then and there.
Finally, a moment of inner peace washed over me. I had no choice but to harvest what I could and mitigate my losses. My anxiety melted. My focus sharpened. Four months later, I paid off the loan and had enough left over to put a down payment on a new car – the one I financed by returning to my old, well-paid corporate job.
That experience scarred me however, making me wary of change and uncertainty. My mistake was that I jumped in and I jumped out. A true farmer is in it for the long haul, through thick and thin. The same is true for the person of faith seeking inner peace and a close relationship with God.
With time and experience, we learn that “this too shall pass.” As the wise King Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
With the perspective that comes from adapting to constant change, we find inner peace in our present joys and trials. We know who holds the future and in him we learn to trust that all things will be made right in his timing, if we do our part as best as we can discern.