I had a few thoughts this morning that I would like to share with you. As I have sat here pondering my morning devotions…the impact of faith upon life has really struck me. Faith in God, in Jesus His Son and the His purpose in and through my life has always been a central theme of my writing. Upon reflection I have looked back upon the many adventures and stories of my life and have seen the consistent thread of God woven through the whole. Each event…good and bad, has helped me to grow in faith and character…which is why God tells us to “count it all joy.” Well in today’s readings I have been challenged to live out my faith in my actions…”faith without works is dead” it says in James 2:17,20,26. The faith that counts is the faith that shows in all the aspects of life…it was this thought that reminded me of a story, of a quiet unassuming man that I got to know…at least a little while we lived on our farm in Manitowaning. Listen…to his faith in action!
A middle-aged man sits by a stall, bending to check on the progress of the faithful beast beside him. Sounds of quiet munching overlaid by the steady hum of pumps fill the air. A peaceful scene spreads before him as he goes about his work. He stands and stretches before moving on to the next cow. His work is to manage a dairy farm; gruelling, back breaking work that draws him from bed at 5 am and puts him back there again in the early evening. As he surveys the old barn he stops to consider the path that brought him back to this century farm with its hereditary work. He sure hadn’t planned it; it was not what he thought he was called to do. But God had other ideas and although he would never feel that his work was anything special; being humble in nature, others would. Looking back you could see that his life had been used mightily for God right here on the family farm, not in some distant land.
From an early age studying the Word had been an integral part of his life and as he grew he knew that following this Word was to be his lifelong calling. At first he had dreams of far off missions to reach and teach those who had not had the same opportunities as he. With that goal in mind and a thirst in his heart, he went off to Bethel Bible College in Indiana to prepare for the work ahead. There he met his lifelong partner, who, though small in frame was a firebrand for God. Together they headed to the mission field in Jamaica. Being a quiet, humble man who sometimes stumbled over words, he felt a bit awkward in the pastoral role, but he had a heart for God and so he served. Through continued study and prayer he came to realize that not all were called to be pastors and so he resigned his position as pastor confident that God would have some other work for him to do. He returned once again to the dairy farm where he was raised and began farming as his father had before him. This truly was the real beginning of his ministry.
God always prepares us for ministry. He gifts us with the tools and expertise we need to do the job that He has prepared for us. How was this man gifted? He had many skills that equipped him to do his daily work and a common sense approach to life that appealed to the country folk around him. He had an unshakeable faith in God and thirst for learning the Word. His wife was also gifted for service, as a musician, a teacher, a homemaker and a tireless servant of all. So how did God use these gifts; what work were they brought home to do? They bloomed where they were planted and produced an abundant crop. They worked together to spread the Good News of the Gospel in their community, at church, at home and in places far off as they touched the lives of all who visited. She taught Sunday school, music, led choirs, and welcomed all new comers to their home, while serving her family that had now grown to five. He served as a Deacon and an Elder, and became an abundant source of wisdom for the church. He reached out into his community helping with all manner of causes and charities even becoming the Reeve of the small town in which they resided. He brought Jesus into the council rooms of government…to show them a better way.
These seedlings were planted by God and fertilized by His Word.