by Andrew Emmott
Associate Pastor, Bloomsburg Baptist Church
The Bible is full of illustrations and lessons about farming because that’s what the people of the Bible did and knew. Farming can be rewarding; it can also be humbling. I grew up watching my Dad and Mom work with dairy cows—milking twice a day, every day, Christmas and birthdays included! They sacrificed sleep when cows were sick or calving at 2 am; they sacrificed vacations and hobbies to care for the herd. They cared (and continue to care) for those cows and calves, knowing which cow was doing well and when a cow was starting to feel ill. The cows would be able to tell if someone else was in the barn and would be irritated. My parents would faithfully rely on a God of provision, as per Ecclesiastes 3—a time to be born, a time to die, time to plant and a time to harvest. A paraphrase would also be “a time to focus daily, and a time to plan through the seasons and the years.” A good shepherd also relies on God to grow the food for the animals to eat, knows that God has created the animals, and grows the animals themselves, as per Psalm 23.
In some ways, caring for animals and people is very similar, but with one key difference. The people of our churches and communities have God working through them and these people work with us. In pursuing ministry myself, there continues to be a reliance on a God who provides and works beyond me. I understand that God has created the person I meet with, has cared for them before us meeting, cares for them while we meet, and will continue to work with them long after we have stopped. I strive to see each person as created by God, loved by God and offered change and transformation. I try to stay within the day, knowing that there are seasons of change to come.