Monday, October 18, 2010


Note to the reader: These comments are posted as I reflect on the tragic lose of a distant cousin in a traffic accident.

I am not young anymore, but I am not old either. I guess I am in "mid-life" by default. I have seen enough of life to know that terrible things happen without warning and that much of life "doesn't make sense". I suppose it is this lose of idealism, knowing that it may not "all work out" that causes men of my station in life to enjoy going home at night to the wife and kids. Being safe and secure out wieghs the thrill of many adventures that could be had.

Age has not dulled the inevitable question of, "Why?"

I have turned that question over countless times for this and other accidents and have come up with two answers. The long answer is, "Only God knows, and He is not telling." The short answer is, "Well, heck." Both are equally comforting and useless.

Today, I looked at the "why?" question from around the corner, so to speak. If I can't find an answer, what does it say about me that I still ask the question? That turn of thought, I believe, sheds some new light on the situation and brings forth some comfort. Let me explain.

I ask "why?" because I want life to have meaning, order, and purpose. Think of the young child who asks the same question to the point of distraction. The child is trying to find the organization, purpose, and meaning in the world he/she is getting to know. We as adults do our best to answer based on our knowledge and understanding.

The point here is that I asked, "Why?" as opposed to shrugging my shoulder or even not caring.

By asking, "Why?" I am saying, "Life should have meaning." By this simple reflex question I am rejecting the idea of a world that is created by random chance. (see my blog on creation/evolution) If we are here as the result of random chance imposed on enormous lengths of time, spread across incredible amounts of events, then what meaning could there be to life?

When I ask "Why?" I am declaring from my inmost being that life has meaning, therefore it was created with a purpose. If it was created with a purpose there must be a creator. If there is a creator, He surely has left a trail of signs in His creation that describe him. For example: A piece of pottery tells us something of the potter. Was he skilled? Did he understand form and function? Did he invest in beauty though it added nothing to function? Did He sign his name to show his pride? Theologians would yammer for hours about this under the title, "General Revelation" as opposed to "Specific Revelation" if you are interested.

Do you start to see what I saw as I "looked around the corner" at this question, "Why?"

My distant cousin's life and death had meaning because it drew me closer to the Creator (God). What greater use is there for a life than to draw yourself and others closer to God? It is the reason I write this blog. I want to help others move toward God. If I can do that, the life that has past will have meaning and many others will too. And so a tragic accident starts a ripple in the sea of humanity that will reach out to many more for years to come.

Do I know where these ripples will go? No. Do I have any control of these ripples? No. Will the ripples affect positive things in the world? Yes!

What is the purpose of man? To love, honor, and glorify God, his creator.

May you have found some encouragement in these words.

Thank you for thinking.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dirt is a four letter word

Dirt. Many people do not see "dirt" in the same way I do. Some think so little of it that it can be used as a term in a put down. Someone might say "you are dumber than dirt" as a way of insulting you. I personally don't see "dirt" that way.

The creation story tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and that he eventually separates out dry ground (dirt) from the water. This dry ground (dirt) becomes pretty important to everything else since it is where plants, animals, and people find a comfortable safe place to dwell. Later in the story of Genesis we read what happens when God brings the water back (the great flood) and all the dry ground (dirt) disappears. In forty days man is wiped out and the nature of life on earth is altered. Noah and his family are the sole survivors and the first thing they look for as the waters recede is dry ground (dirt). So it seems to me that dirt is pretty important stuff and it should be respected and cared for.

Last weeks blog, "the humility of a farmer" detailed how the dirt has the ability to keep me forever aware that I am dependent on something far beyond my control for my existence. Perhaps people who don't farm for a living can more easily forget this fact but the truth is still there, "Almost every part of our human experience starts with "dirt"". Let us reflect a moment on this thought.

Where does food come from? Dirt
Where does petroleum come from? The earth. Well that is a form of dirt.
Where does wood come from? Trees that grow in the dirt.
Where does glass come from? Sand, another form of dirt.
The list goes on and on. Everything wraps back around to "dirt" at some level.

I heard/read a joke that went something like this. Some scientist came to God one day and said, "We have finally figured it out. We can now make man without your help". To which god replied, "That is pretty good, show me how you do it." So the scientist bent down, scooped up a bucket full of the finest dirt they could find and..... God said, "Wait just a minute! Go get your own dirt!"

My point in all this is just to emphasize that we are all directly connected to the "dirt" and that we really don't know all that much about it. It is for this reason that I try to take good care of what has been trusted to my care. I simply don't know much but I do know that "dirt" is foundational to my understanding of who I am and where I come from.

I see society as a whole becoming more aware of this situation almost daily. I see people expressing interest in where food comes from in the natural food movement, what impact human behavior has on the earth (dirt) in the environmental movement, and many other things. In my view all this is people's reaction to God pointing out to them yet again that there are things at work that are much bigger than we are and we need to pay attention.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Humility of a Farmer

Last night I finished havesting perhaps the best soybean crop and the worst corn crop, I have ever grown. The interesting thing is that these two crops were grown side by side on the same farm. I have no explaination for this seeming incongruency. To add to the confusion the neighbor across the road grew a beautiful crop of corn with the exact same variety of seed. He was so proud of it he put up a sign. All of this leaves me frustrated as you can probably tell.

But that is the interesting thing about making your living from the land. It is not always about you. It is about factors that only God can tell. In the early verses of the bible we read about the first sins of Adam and Eve and the consequent statement to the effect that "man will have to struggle to grow a crop from the ground as a result" (read the first several chapters of the bible for the full story). This struggle, as illustrated by my experience, keeps me firmly aware of my inability to control the outcome of the simplest thing.

How complicated is it to put a seed in the ground and grow a crop?

And there you have it.

Farmer's are as proud and arrogant a bunch as anyone else. That is why I am sooo concerned about my neighbor's good crop. But the events of nature keep me humble. I will be several years regaining my confidence as a farmer after this embarrassment. Which reminds me of a simple quote I picked up somewhere, refering to my ego, "Don't worry if your ego gets hurt it will always grow back." Isn't that the truth. But as long as you  are attached to the struggle with the soil for your daily bread, humility will lurk around the corner.

I hear echoes of this struggle in my non-farm friends. They love to plant a garden because they have pride in their harvest. That pride will cause their harvest to taste better and be more nutritious than anything bought at the store. Or they will be quite discouraged if their garden produces little or nothing. Their pride will be hurt. It is a very interesting phenomenon is it not.

Thank you for your consideration.