Farming is a joint venture between God and the farmer. The farmer cannot do what God must do, and God will not do what the farmer should do.
I was skimming over Jerry Bridges’ book “The Pursuit of Holiness” when this quote at the introduction literally jumped at me. It’s a farming analogy that I can’t quite keep off my head. I was born in a farm so I know very well what he was talking about. Let me explain:
When a farmer plants a seed, he does so with definite faith that the seed will not stay dead under the ground. When I was a kid, I was amazed at the precise dates my father could predict the start of the planting schedule. I’d often hear him tell my mother that we’d start planting, say, on a Wednesday and true enough, the rice seedlings will be ready on that same day. I didn’t understand it at first until I realized that my father actually counts the number of days the seeds will be on the seed bed.
I’m pretty sure he wasn’t being spiritual about it. My father only knew Jesus few years before he died in 2004. What he was doing was actually a simple belief in the fact that nature would cause the seeds to grow in time given the right environment. He may not have believed God at that time but he trusted that the system itself will work the way it should. In principle, he trusted the God of nature. He partnered with the trustworthiness of God’s created ecosystem. He knew by experience that it always works. By extension, he was leaning on the faithfulness of the God who was the power behind the forces of nature that caused everything to work as they should.
The side comment I scrawled on the side of the book the day I read Bridges’ introduction pretty much summarizes the whole point I’m making.
The farmer diligently does his work and trusts nature to do its part. Farmers plant, water, take away weeds and make sure the plants are okay, but ultimately the growing and the bearing of fruits are up to the God who created the whole system. Inadvertently, even non-believing farmers trust the providence of God for their crops to grow. But of course they will never admit it.