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Some years, our equipment maintenance/repair/rebuild schedule is a lengthy one. Sometimes, it is dominated by one complicated, large undertaking, such as a snap bean combine overhaul or a potato harvester upgrade.

We have been fortunate this off-season, as we had no major projects.

This past week, as the weather warmed up a bit for a day or so, we got around to working on our largest disc harrow.

Even though we have adopted a no- or minimal-till practice for most vegetable crops — beans and sweet corn especially — our cabbage, potato and black plastic crops need ground that has been worked up properly. That usually means chisel plowing and discing.

Beyond our vegetable planting, once the crops have been harvested, all of our ground is put into a variety of cover crops.

Yes, the old Sunflower disc gets regular workouts. Last year, we noticed that three of her five hydraulic cylinders were leaking fluid and needed a seal kit rebuild.

As anyone who has rebuilt hydraulic cylinders knows, this is a messy job where old coveralls and sawdust are a must!

We had finished rebuilding all of the cylinders, making sure any unwanted air had been purged from the lines, and were ready to test the finished product.

Expecting all systems go, we were quite surprised when the wings didn’t move. After much discussion, review and prayer, we decided to begin the disc harrow review at the beginning.

Yes, we began at the hydraulic tips that connected the wings to the remote. Using a spare set, we discovered that one of the tips was defective; it allowed almost no flow. Problem solved.

As we laughed about how simple this “problem” was to solve, I reflected on the biblical lesson we had learned amidst all the hydraulic mess.

Implements must be regularly maintained if they are going to be effective in the field. In the same way, we — as “implements” of the Living God — need to be regularly “maintained” if we are going to be effective in the “field.”

It goes without saying that a disc harrow whose bearings are shot, whose discs are past worn and whose hydraulics don’t function isn’t going to do its job in preparing the field.

We, as ambassadors of Christ, need to make sure we are field-ready for ministry.

Preparing the soil in both a physical and spiritual sense is tough work. We need to do our part as servants of the Lord to be ready.

Being in church fellowship, studying the word, setting time aside for daily prayer are all part of our “required maintenance.”

Connecting to Him

Yet, for all of this, the implement can’t do a thing without the power to pull it through the field. We need a tractor with power!

In John 15:1-12, Jesus reminds us that by ourselves we can do nothing. In this very familiar chapter, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. ... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ... Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. ... This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Yes, as the Apostle Paul so rightly points out in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

Yes, we must be faithful servants readying ourselves for his service. But without the connection to the him that provides the power, we are nothing.

Our hydraulic tip was the smallest part of the whole implement, almost ignored in our maintenance process, but in the end, in this instance, it was the most important.

Take time this week to abide in his love so that we might truly love others, and in doing so accomplish the work the Lord has set out for us to do.

Rick and Carol Bernstein, assisted by like-minded Christian volunteers, grow food at First Fruits Farm in Freeland, Maryland, to donate to food banks.

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