A Time to Plant and a Time to Uproot

April 29, 2009 | 13 comments

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven;
a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot …”
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

***

Unopened seed bags are stacked six high on pallets in the shed. The restless farmer checks the online weather forecasts. More rain to come tonight. The John Deere tractor and planter will sit idle another day.

The farmer — my husband — has acre upon acre to plant here, some with corn and some with soybeans. But nary a seed has been dropped in the ground this year on the Lee farm, and we’re just shy of May 1.

Earth is awake. Its surface has been readied, overturned and smoothed into a bed suitable for planting. But it’s too wet, and more rain is coming.

There is no real urgency — yet — but the farmer is ready to dig into rich, Iowa soil. Instead, he sits at his laptop in the kitchen, with clean hands and fingernails, while I tap away on the keyboard here in the office.

We talk about the weather, not in the casual tone that folks do on the street, but in the way that farmers have done through the ages.

It seems a farmer would never have peace with Earth or with God outside of a place called surrender.

“God is in control,” the farmer reminds me from his seat at the computer.

I agree, then offer this in return: “You know, we’ve never missed a harvest yet. The harvest always comes.”

He chuckles, and then begins to hum a song on the kitchen radio. With “How Great is Our God” on his lips, the farmer waits.

***


The photo was taken shortly after we’d moved here to the farm. I had left a news-reporting job where the harvest was plentiful and always came quickly. Seeds planted on Tuesday produced a harvest in Wednesday’s paper.

Then, we uprooted, moving from the city to the farm five hours away. A photographer from the paper took the photo to accompany a farewell essay I wrote to newspaper readers. I wrote of our renewed connection to the land, and of the beauty of rural life.

“My view is a horizon interrupted only by silos, trees and the white steeple of a country church. My back yard is a freshly planted bean field.” I wrote. “My home is rural Iowa.”

Yet the optimism disguised deep fears — that the move here would end the harvest.

Hadn’t the God who declared a time to plant also set aside “a time to uproot”?

Did that mean it was over? What would I do with these seeds still lining my pockets?

I bagged them, then stacked them high on pallets. I would wait.

“God is in control,” my husband reminded me. Like the farmer, it seemed the restless writer could only find peace in the surrender.

And then the phone call came during harvest last fall. Would you plant seeds here, on this college campus?

So I did. Saw the harvest today, in six faces.

Today was our last class together. Gathered on couches at the Dordt College coffee shop, my six writing students and I cupped lattes and frappe smoothies while we spoke of the timeless craft of the written word — a craft almost as timeless as planting crops. We spoke of ways God has gifted each of them. We reminisced, and laughed, and then the time came to say goodbye. They picked up papers, pens and bookbags … and walked away.

That was it. Gone.

The harvest had already come. So quickly. Yes, the harvest always comes.

Even so, all of them walked away with seeds in their pockets. And so did I.

For there is planting to be done.

***

” …at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”Galatians 6:9

by | April 29, 2009 | 13 comments

13 Comments

  1. sharilyn

    jennifer… i love the seeds you plant in the hearts of so many with each post you write on your blog… there will be a harvest… whether it’s a garden or field you can see or one far, far away, God will bring about a harvest of the planted seeds…

    keep on farmin’, my friend! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Wendy

    I love the parallels you write about in this post. Sometimes I want to reap what I sow and other times I hope I don’t. 😀
    ~ Wendy

    Reply
  3. christy rose

    I love planting seeds in people’s lives and watching God bring the beauty of the seed into bloom in all of its glory.
    and, i love being the soil that God plants His seed into so the beauty of His seed can bloom in me and bring Him glory.
    What a wonderful post!

    Reply
  4. girlforgod

    Wow that was beautiful, such awesome words and analogies. Yes, sometimes I wonder if God is going to uproot me for a different harvest, but I too will surrender to His will and let the seeds fall, get planted and harvest where they will. Blessings to you and your family; I love the pic. on the post, so sweet! Robin

    Reply
  5. Chris Godfredsen

    Some good news for the antsy farmer in your house who continues to wonder “should I have this in the ground alread?” I had lunch with another farmer friend of mine yesterday who has done this planting thing a time or two, and he is not too worked up yet. God is in control, indeed, so Scott may breathe easy.

    Planting seeds is what we do, isn’t it? Even in the blogosphere we are simply planting seeds, hoping God takes and waters them, nurtures them, and perhaps even provides some shoots of growth in someone else’s life. Ours is the planting, His is the rest. Once in a while, God even allows us to seem some of the fruits of our labor – those are exciting times, indeed!

    Keep planting, my friends!

    Reply
  6. Chris Godfredsen

    Some good news for the antsy farmer in your house who continues to wonder “should I have this in the ground alread?” I had lunch with another farmer friend of mine yesterday who has done this planting thing a time or two, and he is not too worked up yet. God is in control, indeed, so Scott may breathe easy.

    Planting seeds is what we do, isn’t it? Even in the blogosphere we are simply planting seeds, hoping God takes and waters them, nurtures them, and perhaps even provides some shoots of growth in someone else’s life. Ours is the planting, His is the rest. Once in a while, God even allows us to seem some of the fruits of our labor – those are exciting times, indeed!

    Keep planting, my friends!

    Reply
  7. Billy Coffey

    The farmers here aren’t worried either, due to both faith and experience. “We need the rain,” they say. “All we can get.”

    There are few people I admire more than these men, who give their lives to earth and weather.

    We are all farmers in our own right, waiting and planting and praying that the seeds we plant will grow and mature and offer seeds themselves.

    I loved your harvest, professor.

    Reply
  8. Charity Singleton

    “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24

    Each time we die to self and choose to plant a seed in others, God causes something wonderful to grow. That’s what it seems has happened in the life of you and your family, Jennifer. Dying to self, planting seeds, watching what grows.

    Beautiful.

    Reply
  9. Denise

    I am “walking” away from my time here with seeds in my heart and in my pocket. Thank you for supplying both!

    Shalom,
    Denise

    Reply
  10. Daughter of the King

    Galatians 6:9 is such a good reminder. At the PROPER time. In other words, in GOD’s time. Sometimes I need to get over myself and remember that.

    FYI, I left you a blog award at my blog if you’re into that sort of thing.

    Dana 🙂

    Reply
  11. Monica

    Never peace outside of surrender.
    Ohhhh…is THAT why I haven’t had peace!
    Lifelong lesson, lifelong process, surrender.
    (And, *beautiful* family, thanks for showing the photo.)

    Reply
  12. valerie lynn

    Jennifer your story was truly inspirational. I love the way you use your life and to paint a picture for us. It truly was awesome and I enjoyed reading every bit of it. I kept saying, “give me more! give me more”! I truly loved it.

    Reply
  13. Alleluiabelle

    You surely plant the seeds in my heart every time I come here and I walk away with my pockets lined and my bags full and I still keep coming back for more! I just love your writing. I truly do. You touch me every single time I come here.

    Love you Jennifer,
    Alleluiabelle

    Reply

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