Eyes AND Hand to the Plow
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
I was made aware of another delicate step thru my faith journey. I had wondered what I would see and learn during my long car ride, and God did not disappoint. I had to take a detour, onto the longer road, the road less traveled, as the turnpike was closed, and I had to slow down around those bendy farmland curves. I saw beautiful countryside and life at a different pace with amish farms, cows, green hills. I saw myself in none of these, as I am a fast paced person, but I appreciate both paces. However I did see a teaching moment revealed in path for my faith, when I saw a woman in a small field with an old fashioned plow, wearing a bonnet and long skirt, certainly not old gardening clothes but wearing what was expected of her, complete coverings in warm weather, yet she still did the necessary work… and I saw she was walking VERY slow. Why? Because she had her hand AND eyes firmly fixed to the plow. She had her hand to the plow and nothing broke her concentration. My concentration wanders, and my driving trip was my own type of plowing and I was trying to NOT second guess myself, I am always second guessing myself.
Jesus: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
In doing His work, Jesus says don’t look back, DON’T. If you look back, surely you will plow haphazard and be pulled to places unknown, you will be pulled all out of sorts. In faith, we must plow ahead. If we look back and second guess we are risking forward progress, just look and work forward. Serve the Kingdom ahead. Serve where you are planted. Sow your land that was gifted to you to plant. Work with the tools you are given.
Here’s a crucial part of many folks faith journeys, that it is OK to be NOT on the fast track. It is OK to walk slow but walk with sure footing. This amish woman was watching her work and walking with EXTREME focus and that required an appropriately slow and steady speed. Her face was determined, she was EXTREMELY in step with her role, she studied her plow and her steps. She didn’t look back nor look haphazardly off to the side or look so outstretched to somewhere too far ahead. SHE FOCUSED ON HER WORK AT HAND. No matter how slow, old-fashioned, seemingly inefficient it seemed to me zipping along in my car, it was her job that day, perhaps only a few hours within a busy day, to plow. And her instruments were sufficient for the size of the plot and it was in keeping with her chosen lifestyle. And I bet it will produce a bountiful crop because of her attentiveness. Even a small crop is pleasing to the Lord when it yields more than was sown.
Our faith needs focus and follow thru. AND not to anticipate too far ahead. Once we commit to the Lord’s work there is no turning back. And we can’t harvest fruit until we take the time to prepare our fields, tend our fields, be in our fields. Faith is not a spectator sport. Even if we don’t know what will sprout from our plowing, when we earnestly fit our faith work into the context of our lives, with the intent to serve, surely we will be making progress…. Better yet, if we let the Lord plan our lives, He will be making progress… (Remember we may not see the crop ourselves)… God knows where to send the rain, to farmers who prepare. Today, this farmer laid down a beautiful set of straight rows, and unlike plowing like a bull in a china shop, I of all people need to keep watch to step delicate and always be true.
Another crucial crystallized thought: How often do we REDO our own work, not looking back but doubling back to the same routine, when we should be looking for new work, new fields to sow. How often God does change our scenery if we travel long enough on the same road, within a short time we will be set to work our same skills with new souls. How often does God use the detours of life, unplanned as well as asking us to take risk purposefully by taking the road less traveled, or to plow into a new field. How often do we see wasted time as wasted, but the Lord sees it differently. Even fallow fields are required to rest. We can always pray instead of stew. Perhaps God’s timing is waiting for our obedience rather than the other way around.
The Lord makes time, He can stretch it, slow it, and He can make all our time worth His time. So should we slow or stretch our time as well, make it into time well spent, even if it giving quiet time to let seeds sprout. Sometimes the best plan is to listen and be still.
We shall sow and sow we will in His time, on His land, for His people.
Our journey picking up our faith walks, and never knowing what lies ahead, could become like the women that first Easter morning who stepped into darkness with minimal light and hope after Jesus was laid to rest. They still plowed ahead with their journey to anoint a dead body, they plowed ahead even in danger, without any expectation of the glorious Easter moment ahead – of SEEING THE RISEN CHRIST. Jesus startled them for sure. I am sure when we continue our faith walks, Jesus will startle us as well, with HOPE, LIGHT, and GRACE. When we know that all we did was plow, we will know that He was the one who walked us into growth.
Keep plowing forward.