There is an old saying, "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched". The idea is of not being so assured of a positive outcome until you actually see the outcome beginning to occur. Not every "egg" contains a chicken! I'd never eat eggs again if they did! The need to have "hope" is inherent in most of our dealings in life - we invest something with the "hope" of getting something in return. We would be very disinterested in life if nothing ever happened, right?
First plant your fields; then build your barn. (Proverbs 24:27 The Message)
This is a very short passage taken from the Book of Proverbs. It is listed as a "wise saying". Indeed, it has a few very important implications to us about the choices we make. Let's explore:
- First plant your fields. I am not a farmer, so if I don't do this justice, excuse me right up front, but I will report what I have observed. A farmer can have a luxurious home, great barns and silos - but if the fields are never prepared and planted, the "farm" is really just land with a house on it! Now, if the farmer expects crops from the fields just he has declared it to be a "farm", most of the educated people in this world would think he was nuts, right? Sometimes I think we expect things like being a church-attender to accomplish the "work" of making us into "good Christians". Yet, it is not so much the "attending" which makes the difference - it is the applying of what is taught which transforms. Until the farmer sets the plow to the field, the land is just land. Until we apply what we are taught, the teaching is just education.
- Plant the fields. Okay, the directive is an "action", not a passive process. If the farmer sat back and waited for the fields to "plant themselves", he'd see a huge crop of weeds and wild grasses, right? Barren (uncultivated) land has fallen into barrenness, or is still barren, simply because it has not been "turned over". It is the "activity" of plowing that opens the soil to the possibilities of new growth. The same is true of our heart. Until we are open to new growth, we just remain barren. To our shock, the only way to "open" the soil is with the use of the plow! What does a plow do? It slices through hardness, turning over and revealing what otherwise would remain hidden. Okay, now I hear your resistance - no one wants the plow! But...if we want to plant, we must first plow. No plow = no new growth.
- Then build your barn. I like to look at the choice of "joining" words used in the scripture. This could have read, "and build your barn", almost implying a simultaneous planting and building process. In looking at the instructions again, we see a plan. Soil prepared - leads to new growth - new growth leads to the need for a place to store the outcome of growth - the barn. No amount of "barn-building" is necessary if there is never a crop brought in - right? Why the delay in building the barn? I propose it is a matter of right focus - the "crop" planted needs attention, or it will wither and die. So, the barn-building is closer to harvest, not at the time of planting. Once the growth is established and fruit begins to be seen, the barn is built. This speaks to the principle of right focus. As long as our eyes are on the "future state", we don't focus on the "present state" very well. If we are always "counting chickens", we lose sight of someone stealing our eggs!
- Build your barn. Building is a matter of connecting piece to piece until you see the finished product. I love Lego building blocks. I had them as a kid and have always had them in the house when the kids were growing up. Now, they have another prominent place with my grandsons. We can create until our hearts are content simply by connecting one to another. I daresay God does a great deal in providing the "building blocks" for all we need in life. There are times when he counts on us to "put the pieces together" - seeing the connection between one thing and another, until we see the finished product!
- Your barn. Did you ever stop to consider the purpose of the barn? It is a building of storage. It has great capacity because it is usually a "hollow" structure which accommodates the "infilling" of the harvest. Now, barns come in all sizes - smaller ones which accommodate the tools and needs of a small farm, and gigantic ones which could park an airplane inside! In considering those Legos again, some of the sets are capable of "building" a variety of different creations. In building your creation, there are times when there are blocks left over when we are finished building. Sometimes we settle for the smaller when God provides all the blocks for the gigantic! Wouldn't it be better to use ALL the blocks God gives?
Short passages sometimes have the biggest lessons. Just saying!