Sunday, February 27, 2011

Barns on Hillsides

We've lived here at High Meadow Farm for 19 years and how quickly that time has flown! It's been long enough now that when I look about our land, I see many memories and hear many stories. Children were raised here and now grandchildren come. Our children's friends that came now come with their own children, taking riding lessons on the same pony that my children rode. What a blessing to my soul!

Our farm is only 10 acres and is evenly split; 5 acres of flat land in front, and 5 acres that consist of a hill in back. Our home sits down on the 5 flat acres, along with paddocks, kennels, gardens and a tiny orchard. The horse barn and pasture sit on the hillside. Originally, about 100 years ago, the barn was a dairy barn. About 25-30 years ago, horse-owning residents did some remodeling to make the barn horse-friendly, and we've done more redmodeling over the years, too. It's a pretty cool barn all-in-all, but having barn and pasture on a hill is a continual battle against the effects of nature.
As has happened many times, we had a hum-dinger of a storm roll through a few days ago dumping a few inches of rain in a short period of time. The gravel lane rutted out - again - washes were evident in the barn and pasture - again. And again we have to go back to work to restore the damage. Not that we didn't work hard to prevent the damage in the first place! It seems we are constantly striving to maintain a barn and pasture on a hillside!Another big storm is predicted for this evening, so this morning I was busy doing all that I could to prevent further washouts. As I was lugging rock around, it occurred to me that it will be the land that wins in the end. It will be the forces of nature that win in the end. Despite all our work, we cannot make nature take another course.

It brought to mind the words of God to Job, who had questioned God's justice and goodness. In various places in the book of Job, God said, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" (38:4) "...who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?" (38:8) "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?" (38:12) "Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?" (38:16) "Where is the way to the dwelling of light?" (38:19) Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?" (38:22) "Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt?" (38:25)

Towards the end of the questioning, God asks Job, "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." (40:2) And Job answer Him later, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted."

And we toil on, working hard to live within the forces of nature, but never able to fully tame her. So how is it that so many believe that what we do in our daily lives will kill the planet? Should we be good stewards of God's good earth? Yes! Christians should be the first to proclaim it, but do we really think that mankind can cause the glaciers to melt and the oceans to rise? We think far too highly of ourselves when we do, and we ignore example after example that we are not the ones in charge of natural forces. Too many earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes, blizzards, and on and on tell us that we are small indeed.

And yet God invites us to Himself. He establishes us and gives us a hand in the glory of creation. We see this in what the Psalmist has written:

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower
than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion
over the work of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet ...

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Ps.8:3-6, 9)

So we will keep working to make our own little garden a glory to God and a haven for man. But in the end the land will win, and all of it - including us - go back to Him who gave it.