The High Calling of a Farmer

September 30, 2012 | 18 comments

The girls and I trace crackling gravel roads to bring our favorite farmer a drink. We park by the barbed wire and climb the half-naked hill. Up on this bluff, I feel exposed, too.

A stripping away.

With less of myself, I see more of God.

The hillside fields out here by the river are my favorite. Yet they offer the lowest yield. The best of our crops are grown three miles away on flat, black Iowa ground cultivated by Lee men for more than a century. But these fields are the jubilant fields. High on a God-sculpted hill, I feel closer to the Creator.

We climb higher still, to the place where Scott combs rows in a cloud of soybean dust. I remember the words we used in his father’s obituary: “He felt closest to God on the seat of a John Deere…”

This is holy work, the work of the hands.

The Good Book says we’re all priests. And I believe it. We were baptized into sacred work. We are co-laborers with Christ. As God’s people, we all wear the white robe and the priestly collar under our farm coveralls, our nurses’ scrubs and our postal uniforms.

Once — before Christ — we weren’t even “a people.” But now we are a royal priesthood.

With Christ planted within us, we have been ordained. We join in a priestly, sacramental work. We all have a High Calling, even if it doesn’t look “religious.”

The farmer plants a seed, waits for rain. He scrutinizes skies and grain markets. He knows the mechanics of the combine, the innards of a bean pod. But the Chicago Board of Trade can’t chart the real influence of this work. A farmer co-labors with God to feed bodies — the temples that carry the Spirit.

I stand at the edge of an earthen altar, while shadows grow long on the bluff. Bean pods are ablaze, like candelabra. A priest-farmer lays bare this ground. This is his liturgy.

The Scofield commentary says that the chief privilege of a priest is access to God. We — mere farmers, mere humans — have access to God? Glory!

I sing the doxology, because the natural response to a gift like that is gratitude.

I bend my knees to the ground and pick up one stray pod from the floor of the sanctuary. I press open the pod at the seam, revealing three creamy pearls.

One pod. Three tiny beans. Three in one.

When Jesus opens the eyes of the blind, even those who have doubted see evidence of His good and perfect work.

I partake of a sacramental moment, and drop thanks in the offering plate for this, the vantage point of a Creator who lets us do His work in the world.

” … whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
— 1 Corinthians 10:31

From the archives…. Words I return to year after year, each harvest, as I reflect on the High Calling of our daily work.

Friend, how do you describe the High Calling of your daily work?

Linking up with Michelle today…

by | September 30, 2012 | 18 comments


  1. ro.ellott

    I love the picture of your man and his girls…sweet…I have watched my husband sacrifice his career for us years ago…and now God has restored to him what He has been created do to…his Holy work…and it brings me such joy…a place of gratitude to see him do his “work” on a college campus. and blessings to the farmers…who work the long hours…to travail through the seasons…and give the fruit of their labor. blessings to you and your family:)

    • dukeslee


      So glad to hear that your husband has landed in his calling. You put “work” in quotes. I’m assuming that means he loves it so much that it doesn’t feel like actual work? 🙂 … What a blessing…


  2. Elizabeth Stewart

    All we do, done as unto Him. I love this. I love you, too. You are a blessing and an encouragement to me. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Elizabeth. It’s a joy to have you here in the comment box. xo

  3. Kim

    This Kansas farm wife loves the analogy of the field as a sanctuary. All of God’s beautiful Earth should remind us of His blessings each and every day. We are in the midst of planting next year’s wheat crop. And, even though it’s done in the midst of the second year of drought, it’s still a miracle to see the “dead” seed buried in the ground and then shoot up as green – renewed.

    • dukeslee

      I would love to know more about wheat. We don’t plant it here — corn and soybeans only in our fields.

      And oh Kim … thank you for the beautiful way you’ve described the miracle.

  4. David Rupert

    You know the feelings i have about farming…and the life I’m missing out on!

    You write of the romance and the hardship all in the same breadth.

    There is a High Calling to the profession, even if it was the first J.O.B.

    For me, my High Calling is about truth telling, which is increasingly difficult in a

    • dukeslee

      Would love to have you here for a harvest, David!

  5. Lynn Morrissey

    Beautiful post, Jennifer, and I’m glad you republished it for new readers like me. What is there about climbing hills that draws us closer to eyes? I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where comes my help. You always help us to look up as you engage in the sacred work He gives you to do. I pray I can emulate your example!

    • dukeslee

      Hi Lynn! You’re so right… That climb up makes me feel closer to God, even though he’s right in the valleys, too.

      Thanks for being here, friend.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Oops. well you know I meant, “draws us closer to God”! =]

  6. Jillie

    Beautiful post Jennifer. “A farmer co-labors with God to feed bodies–the temples that carry the Spirit.” I’ve never thought of it this way before. Being ‘a farmer’ is truly a high ‘calling’ indeed.
    My husband is a Millwright/Welder/Maintenance Man at the company he’s been with for 36 years! He works very hard every day to provide. I often tell him that it’s the ‘little people’, the ‘common labourers’ who keep a country going. When he’s weary and discouraged, I try to remind him that he does not work for man…but for the Lord Himself. That makes any job ‘a high calling’, right?

    • dukeslee

      Jillie! Yes, yes, yes! That is it exactly! Our high calling is “high” because of God, not because of us. He calls us into all kinds of fields. Consider Paul, who was a tentmaker. The very son of God did work as a carpenter. And God calls all of us into various professions — plumbers, pastors, doctors, stay-at-home moms, teachers, dentists, park rangers, etc. — to do work in this world.

      I am so very glad you’re here, sharing your high calling with us. xo

      • Jillie

        Thank you, Jennifer. You’re a sweetheart!

        I’ve been wanting to ask…How is Lydia coming along?

  7. floyd

    Your man is a man after my own heart. What a beautiful picture of the family God designed. It is an honor to do what we do and the things He’s blessed and called us to do.

  8. Amber

    A friend shared your post on her facebook wall.
    As a farmers wife being convicted of my High Calling, even during time of persacution, as I read through Collosians with my Good Morning Girl group….Thank You for a lovely view of God’s Calling to us the simple farmers….growing sustenance for the “temples”

  9. Kel Rohlf

    Jennifer- This speaks to my heart today…I was out and about in midwestern suburbia today doing errands…eating Wendy’s…browsing a book store…stopping by friends…and picking up a CD at the library…my mind was on a lesson I’m teaching this Saturday about the Proverbs 31 woman…a super woman…then I thought about what super power I wanted and about a quote I heard on a radio show…and in that moment…I felt like I was streaming ideas from the Holy Spirit…the high calling of sharing His word in engaging and yet down to earth ways…all these pieces falling together for a simple day retreat at a small church out here in the midwest…why God is so good to us…even my son texted me and said he’d be glad to watch my sister’s kids so she and my mom can come hear me share…my eyes filled with tears of gratitude during an ordinary day of errands!

  10. laura

    I am wondering if that pod somehow may have contorted itself into a “Y”? I guess there was no need, though, was there? He spoke loud and clear His presence. Beautiful, Jennifer.


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