In my Dominion Valley Bible Study this week the lesson briefly referred to Luke 9:62. As Jesus taught his followers the importance of commitment, he used the illustration of a farmer plowing a field. Once the farmer put his hand to the plow, he shouldn’t look back, but continue to look forward in order to plow a straight row.
I chuckled to myself and had to bite my tongue to keep from interrupting the reader and relating the imaginary that filled my thoughts. So often I’m drawn back to incidents that happened in my childhood.
When my mother worked away from home to supplement the meager income of her farmer husband, my sister and I were left in the care of our father. Many a hot spring or summer day, I sat at the end of the corn row and watched Daddy plow the field. Perspiration and dirt mingled as I sifted through the hot sand and wished for an angel to come take over the plowing so we could go to the house. I longed for a drink of cool well water to moisten my dry, parched lips.
A few years later, Daddy gave me the opportunity to try my hand at planting the corn with the tractor. He loved to fish and when the itch hit him, he couldn’t seem to stop himself from heading to the river. “You finish planting the corn while I go fishing with grandpa. The main thing is to keep the tractor in a straight line. If you don’t, we’ll have some crooked rows when the corn comes up.”
I started out doing quite well, but soon realized the truth–it was a lonely, boring job. I’d much rather sit in the shade reading a good book. When a book wasn’t available, my next favorite thing was to make up my own stories. As I endured the monotonous task, my mind drifted toward some exciting adventure while the tractor gradually drifted off course. Realizing too late, I tried to straighten the very crooked row and correct my mistake. Only time would tell how far off I’d strayed.
When the tiny sprigs of corn made an appearance in late spring, Daddy took the planter off the tractor and replaced it with plows designed to cultivate the soil around the young plants. My poor attempt at planting soon revealed itself–the rows were so crooked in spots that it was impossible to plow the corn without damaging the tender shoots.
Thankfully, my father was good-natured and easy-going. He laughed and teased throughout the growing season and into harvest as he handed me a hoe to attack the weeds where he couldn’t use the tractor. The process would have been much easier had I kept my eyes and mind on the task set before me.
I can’t say I miss the hard work we endured on the farm, but I do appreciate the valuable lessons. My active imagination hasn’t left me, but God uses it to create stories that will inspire and encourage others. I’m often tempted to look back with regret that I didn’t take classes in journalism or pursue a writing career years ago. But despite the regrets, God has a plan and though I sometimes stray and plow a crooked row, he gently corrects me and makes my path straight again.
Looking back is okay as long as we learn from our mistakes and use them as tools for the future. What lessons have you learned from your childhood that inspires and encourages you now?