This “Application” column goes with the Bible Lesson for Nov. 1, 2020: God Is Faithful (2 Timothy 2:11-13; 4:6-8, 16-18)
By David Faust
I learned a lot of practical lessons on the farm where I grew up. Dad was good at fixing things. I wasn’t. He didn’t have a college degree, but he deserved an honorary doctorate in the school of hard knocks. He knew how to weld metal, mend fences, install electrical wiring, fix leaky water pipes, help a cow give birth, and grow a flourishing garden. He knew his Bible well. Neighbors and church members respected his common sense and frequently sought his advice.
My parents assigned chores to my brothers and me. Some tasks we did every morning before school, while others waited till evening. We fed hogs and calves, hoed weeds in the garden, gathered eggs in the chicken house, filled mangers with hay, and herded the cows into the barn so Dad could milk them. I drove a tractor long before I sat behind the steering wheel of a car. I still remember how proud I felt when Dad decided I was old enough to mow the grass like my older brothers did, walking back and forth across the yard behind our noisy old push mower. One time I hit a big rock, ruining the mower blade. Dad was good at fixing things; I was good at breaking them.
Often before I mowed, Dad would trim around the edges of the lawn, clipping the weeds along the fence rows and mowing the hard parts around the trees and flower beds. Looking back, I realize he wanted to make sure everything looked neat and manicured when we finished the job. And by taking care of the harder parts himself, Dad made the lawn mowing a little easier for me and my brothers. He did that kind of thing a lot.
How many times has my heavenly Father done the same for me? I complain about my difficulties, but looking at those situations a different way, might my tasks be even harder if God hadn’t gone ahead and prepared the way? Because he has a vision for how things should look in the end, is it actually the Father who does the harder tasks, chopping down weeds and clearing out underbrush, removing the obstacles I’m not strong enough to lift?
Under the Law of Moses, at harvest time farmers were supposed to leave some grain, olives, and grapes “for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (Deuteronomy 24:19-21) and leave some sheaves and fruit along the edges of their fields for the less fortunate to gather and consume (Leviticus 23:22). These laws provided the poor with food while also giving them the dignity of participating in the work. The farmers benefited, too, by practicing generosity rather than greed and sharing their harvest with others in need. Similarly, God’s providence and human responsibility intertwine in ways that transcend our understanding. Faithful and wise, God does what only he can do, but he gives us the dignity of choice, the responsibility of obedience, and the privilege of participating in his work.
My adult son lives in a 110-year-old house in the inner-city, and his little home is surrounded by a modest-sized yard. We worked together in his lawn the other day, mowing grass and raking leaves. I told him, “I’ll trim around the edges.” Somehow it seemed like the right thing to do.
PERSONAL CHALLENGE: Think about a time when God protected you, taught you a lesson, or solved a problem for you. Thank him for it. Then identify a way this week you can assist someone else who could use a helping hand.