[This is one of the posts telling a story from the life of my Dad. Click here to see the others.]
Since my Dad's death last year, I've been dabbling in his business of farming and ranching, and lesson #1 has been: Rain helps. I know this because we're in the midst of the worst dry spell on record for our area, and that makes every part of our business more difficult. This is nothing new in farming or ranching, and we're certainly not the first ones in the history of the world to go through a drought.
My Dad always made me laugh during dry spells like this. He had the deluxe rain gauge pictured above, which measures precipitation down to the 100th of an inch. (For those of you not from around here, 100th is pronounced "hunnerth.") Regardless of how long we had gone without rain, Dad would drive up to the rain gauge every day, get out of his truck, unscrew the lid and take out the pictured cylinder. Then, he would take a close look, put it back, get back in the truck and say, "Well, we're one day closer to rain."After taking this picture today, it made me consider the possibility that rather than looking for rain, he was simply emptying out any accumulated dead bugs. But what impressed me more than his habit of stopping at the gauge, whatever his reason for doing so, was how he managed to remain calm and never get stressed out over things he had no control over, like weather. Some years, drought got his crop. Other years, it was a hailstorm. Still other years, it was an early or late freeze. And some years, everything went fine and he had a good crop. As much as these factors might worry the average person, he saw no reason to get worked up over them, because they came with the territory of living his lifestyle.
I'm convinced that some lifestyles are much more able than others to give us a head start on learning to live our lives in a deep friendship with God, and that the lifestyles of farmers and ranchers are among those. Of course they don't come with any guarantees, because certainly there have been farmers and ranchers whose character hasn't resembled that of Jesus any more than I resemble a sumo wrestler. But in general, I think that through the work they do, and the way they have to depend on God to do it, they can naturally pick up a lot of the lessons the rest of us go looking for in books, retreats, or classes.
Sure, a dry year is inconvenient- even very costly, but it's going to rain again. And as other parts of the country are experiencing in flooding while we're in such a drought, a whole different set of problems can come along when the rain does come. So the challenge is for us not to trust in dry days nor rainy days (or whatever your non-agricultural equivalent of them is), but in the God who is near us in them both. The most that we can do is make sure that the conditions for the growth of our crops are in place, and then leave the results in God's hands.
PS: Occasionally, I find that translating Scripture from regular English into Texan is helpful in communicating its meaning. Along the lines of this post, Matthew 6:27 would say, "Which of y'all, by worrying, can make it rain even a hunnerth of an inch?"