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Painful But Necessary

I do appreciate farmers! These hard-working individuals turn the soil and cultivate a


bounty every year. They are business men and women, keeping their families and communities fed. The hard work they do every day stretches the imaginations (and the muscles) for those of us working a clock-punching kind of job where the biggest complaint is lack of control over the office thermostat and internet outages.

I have tried countless times to grow a vegetable garden, nothing to a grand scale, but just to have some fresh produce from my own yard and to add a little to the freezer. But each year’s effort ends with little of what I imagined. Heat. Mosquitos. Humidity. Gnats. My hat and garden gloves off – In respect of those who work so hard to feed us all! I am off to the Farmer’s Market to collect some from their beautiful bounty.

Farmers take the land God has so graciously given them and they work it! They do not have the option of staying inside and avoiding the summer’s elements. Their job is to feed their families, neighbors, country, and countless others around the world. Everyone is depending on them to be diligently working, not overlooking even one destructive pest.

Meanwhile, I rush out the door, Monday through Friday, with just enough time to get to work and punch the clock. Each morning I hope to get ahead of the school buses and hope there are no combine drivers on the last leg of my commute where the farmlands are plentiful. Getting stuck behind one of these road-hogs is certainly an inconvenience.

What if the farmhand decided he didn’t want to deal with the sun beating down on him and the horns blaring from angry drivers? What if he said, “I’ll get to the fields when its more convenient for everyone around me.” How would their family be effected? Consider how the store shelves would look months later when the produce has run out. The farmer can’t travel back in time and undo the damage of pests and weeds.

Down here in L.A. (Lower Alabama) the dust clouds have been kicking-up and hay bales are lining nearby fields. Cotton has been growing and peanut harvesting is beginning to pick up the pace. It is a sight to behold when the farmlands are flourishing! It is a beautiful suffrage.

Just a couple weeks ago, thanks to the disturbance of the soil, my allergies had me coughing uncontrollably day and night. For several days, I would forego the use of cough

suppressants, permitting the inconvenient, painful cough to work at expelling the bronchial intruders. Finally, I had enough of sleepless nights and surrendered! I switched to using a suppressant at night, allowing the body to get back to work during the day, coughing and forcing a retreat. Whether plowing the fields of the old south or struggling with allergens from the same fields, life is not about convenience. Being out of the office was not planned or convenient, just ask those who had to pick up the slack. I think many will agree: Progress is more often painful than pretty.

In the opening chapter of Joshua, Moses has died and it is FINALLY time for the Israelites to enter into the Promised Land. While the promise had been there for forty years, there was delay in its fulfillment. The Israelites were freed from grueling, painful slavery but quickly started belly-aching about what they had to eat, the “comforts of home” not being available, and the long walk being less than convenient. This is not what they planned. The people were no longer making bricks and building walls! No more hard work in the sun day in and day out. But their new lifestyle was not what they wanted. They actually looked back and said that their time in bondage was better than their time free to follow God!

Joshua now holds the position of Commander and is instructed by God to announce to the crowd that it is time to pack up camp, gather all they can, and in three days they will make the final journey. There is no town hall meeting to decide if the timing is right. No heading to the polling place to cast a ballot and get a majority ruling of what day and time would be most convenient. God said, “Go.” He said, “Pack it up!” Joshua has seen what happens when God’s people are disobedient and try to negotiate with the Father. It ain’t pretty! Joshua says, “Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.” No, thank you!

Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:6-11, NASB

What are you facing today that may mean moving from where you are settled and comfortable? Do you feel God’s calling you to clean out some clutter on your calendar? Perhaps the direction God is sending you in seems to be not only an inconvenience on you but on those around you? It all seems so counter-intuitive from the direction you saw your life going. Those retirement plans will need to change. The plans for your kids’ high school years will look differently from how you imagined. You just finished college and this career path does not lineup with all your goals four years ago.

All that is on the calendar looks like good things, but they are not all God’s things for you. He will organize your days to be a blessing, rather than a race.

What feels like an interruption, an inconvenience, God will use to be the best moments in your life. You will see His timing to be perfect and everything will be convenient because He is in everything!

Your imagination for the future of your kids is not even close to being as perfect as God’s plans for them. They need you to be walking in His steps so they can follow YOU where HE is leading!

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