The growing season begins for us the exact same way every year.
We kick it off with great fanfare as the team assembles to cut and plant tens of thousands of pounds of seed potatoes. The fanfare is partly due to the pent up demand among all those close to the farm to finally DO SOMETHING!
Potatoes are the perfect kick off crop. It’s one of our most important crops due to its versatility, durability and easy storage. And we are told pantry clients like spuds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What’s not to like?
So, after months of machinery repair, snow, ice and raw cold mornings, our gang is itching to get back in the dirt. The plowed ground is ready for final tillage, the seed potatoes are here and ready to be cut, and the fertilizer cart is ready to be filled.
We just need spring weather to cooperate. Alas, it rarely does. You would think we would have learned by now, yet here we are debating about whether to take a risk and cut the potato seed so we will be ready to plant.
The scene is both remarkable and funny. We know that the ground is still cold, that we have many weeks to plant and that potato seeds (once cut) can dry out. We even know that potato seed placed in warmer ground germinates faster, is less prone to rot and many believe produce better yields.
However, despite the dictates of logic, our humanness fights back. We do not like to wait.
There is great temptation to: (1) grumble, and (2) to decide to go ahead without waiting for the right planting conditions. Both temptations have real consequences. Grumbling affects our spirits and calls into question God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. And doing it “my way” (a la Sinatra), adds the real possibility that things will turn out badly. Turning to scriptures, we find many examples of the wisdom and blessing of waiting on God.
The Wisdom of Waiting
Three biblical illustrations seem particularly instructive.
In Genesis 6, we read of the perseverance of Noah. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ... But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord ... And God said to Noah, I have determined to make an end to all flesh ... Make yourself an ark.”
This is an incredible story. Noah is told to build an immense structure, fill it with animals, and wait. It took many years to build the ark, and Noah no doubt suffered continuous ridicule from his neighbors. Sometimes God calls us to wait faithfully without an apparent road map.
Later in Genesis 15, God makes his covenant with Abraham: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be great.
But Abraham said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless?”
And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
But like all of us, Abraham and Sarah, grow impatient. They were old — Where is this son the Lord spoke about? They decide to take matters into their own hands. Sarah offers her servant Hagar as a surrogate and Hagar gives birth to a son, Ishmael. The consequences of their disobedience continue to this day. Trusting in our own understanding, not God’s, never brings peace.
Sometimes God calls us to wait in a situation that doesn’t seem smart or safe. Jesus has been raised, the tomb is empty, but the city of Jerusalem is in an uproar. In Luke 24, Jesus appears to his fearful friends huddled somewhere in the city. Jesus greets his disciples, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and thought they saw a ghost. Jesus calms their fears, then “he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem … I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay (wait) in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Stay in a city where they could be arrested or worse?
But we know God’s ways are not our ways.
After a long winter, we vegetable farmers are eager to get to work. We could even get ahead of ourselves. Praise the Lord, who is full of mercy and grace, and helps us to learn to trust Him through the gift of waiting. The crop will be planted. The harvest is the Lord’s. We are well advised to walk in obedience, and in so doing, perhaps we will bear a new fruit — the fruit of the Spirit known as patience.