Good Friday morning ...
Growing up in the country on a farm is like nothing else ... you get to work directly with your family on a regular basis, you get to raise, feed and support farm animals and you get to see directly where your food comes from.
Growing up on a farm as a kid you learn some pretty significant life lessons.
You learn patience at an early age. Before you can get what you want or do what you want, chores have to be completed and sometuimes meals will be delayed because of an urgent need (i.e. a cow has broken through the fence and must be returned; the day-long canning/freezing process must first be compeleted).
You learn where your food comes from and you get a first-hand, up-close view of how crops are planted, nurtured and harvested, then preserved for later consumption. You are part of the process and learn to appreciate the effort that goes into making homemade tomato juice or freezing a quart of fresh corn. You feed the chickens, gather the eggs, milk the cow and reap the tasty benefit of home-grown produce and farm-fresh dairy products.
You learn to appreciate where you come from. You get to grow up on the greatest playground in the world full of wide-open spaces, places to hide and secret paths through the woods. Where else would you get to spend so much time outdoors? There's no better place to let an imagination grow than on a farm!
You learn to respect the land, to conserve water, to use natural fertilizers, mulches and composts and to use simple erosion control techniques.
You learn to toughen up or else. They say there's no crying in baseball ... well there is little room for it in farming as well. You learn to roll up your sleaves, to get dirty and to get going because it is the only way jobs will get done.
You learn about the birds and the bees fairly early because that's what farm animals are about. You quickly learn about the life cycle of animals on the farm. You see chicks hatched and calves born. You witness the slaughtering of chickens and cows and pigs. It's all part of the farm culture and you see it all first-hand.
You learn the true meaning of family and to appreciate it as well. You work with each other and put up with each other on a daily basis knowing that everyone has chores and responsibilities. You lean on each other when things go wrong and support each other when nothing goes right.
You learn to be handy. You learn from a young age the tools of the trade. You know which hoe to use when weeding corn, which rake to use when smoothing a furrow, which fork to use when mucking the cow barn. You know which screwdriver is which, what a ball peen hammer is for and what size pliers is needed for the job. You know how to change oil and how to reuse it on the farm.
One of the biggest lessons learned on the farm is there is no such thing as an excuse. Have you ever tried to use the excuse: "But I don't want to do that"? That doesn't work too well on the farm, especially if you have the loving parents I had. You learn pretty quickly as soon as the words left your mouth that it doesn't matter ... you're still going to have to do it anyway. There are few excuses around a farm. A job is a job and that job has to be done.
Growing up on a farm you learn discipline and you learn hard work ... and, by the way, you learn to appreciate both. And as I reflect on my growing-up days on our family farm ... I wouldn't have had it any other way.
I suppose some of my prep school classmates could write about lessons learned growing up in the Bronx or in a bedroom community of Connecticut or on the Jersey Shore. And those life lessons would probably mean as much to them as mine do to me. But I suspect the lessons learned on the farm are of far more value as life lessons than those learned from urban or city living. Just saying.
But the most important lessons of life are learned in the Christian home whether it is on a farm, in a huge city or in the suburbs of New York City. Lessons learned from Christian parents and lived out in the fellowship of a Christian church have tremendous impact on daily living, but, more importantly, on living beyond this life. We are to learn these lessons and learn them well.
I learned some of these lessons from my parents as they lived out their faith:
to serve is to be great
love conquers all
keep your word
give in secret
nothing is impossible if you have faith
follow the Godlen Rule
there is a cure for worry
There are, of course, many more. But these lessons, learned alongside those from the farm, have been life-long companions. I am thankful for a gracious and forgiving God who allows me to acknowledge my failures and to grant me forgiveness.
"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." [Deuteronomy 6:6-9]
Have a great weekend in the Lord ... mindful of your life lessons learned from where you grew up and from your walk of faith ...