It’s been a cold, hard week for the valley farmers. After a warm spell that brought out all the blooms in our orchard, a freeze hit. One or two days of this kind of cold farmers can manage with sprinklers and smudge pots. Actually, smudge pots aren’t used anymore in this valley, but when I was a kid, the old pots filled with diesel were burned in the orchards to keep the trees warm. Nowadays, farmers turn on their sprinklers to save the crop during a cold snap. Watering works for awhile, but freezing temperatures for a week are unmanageable.
My feelings have been a bit unmanageable as well. Jesus says do not worry about tomorrow, but this week my worries have been warring on me. You know how worries bombard your soul? When you’re sick to your stomach thinking about everything going wrong. When you’re up at 3 a.m. wondering how you’ll pay the bills and feed the boys without peaches to sell this summer.
We knew this going into farming. My grandparents were peach farmers. Each harvest was their livelihood. When a good harvest rolled in my grandpa would grin and say, “We can live again!” On the bad years, grandma always had a nest egg. My grandparents got by on the hard years and celebrated the good years. But we have no nest egg. And this is the year we stepped out in faith, believing God was doing something new in our lives. Scott left his teaching job and I pressed into writing, counting on our farm come summer. We knew it would be hard. But not this hard.
Are you here with us? Wondering why life is so hard right now? Wondering where God is during this long, cold week? Month? Or year? Maybe you’ve had a string of hard years. Maybe your hard years never seem to end. Can you just lean in close so I can whisper something in your ear…
Even when your hopes are frozen, God has a future for you. Even when all seems lost, you are found. Even when you can’t stop shaking, the God who loves you can never be shaken.
Turn your eyes to heaven. Don’t look at your problems here on earth. Don’t look at yourself falling apart. Look up and say, “My God knows. My God hears. My God answers.”
“When you pray, real things happen that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t prayed. Your prayers move the hand of God,” says John Piper, one of my favorite preachers.
We’ve been praying like crazy this week. Several days ago, Scott’s side of the bed was cold at 2 a.m. I went in search of him. I found my man outside in just his shorts staring up at the stars. “My gosh, it’s freezing out here. What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m just praying. Look at the stars tonight. Aren’t they brilliant?”
“Come back to bed. It’s so cold out here.” In my flannel pajamas, I walked over and hugged my husband. His body felt like ice. We’d gone to bed at odds. I wasn’t happy about putting my writing on hold to take a secretary job at my dad’s engineering firm because my car broke down and we needed money to fix it.
Everything’s been breaking. The toilet. The heater. The fences. I could go on, but I won’t. It’s too discouraging. All these broken things with no cash to repair them right now. When you’re earning just thirty cents a book, that doesn’t go far. And in December, Scott had skin cancer removed from his face. This brought medical bills and Scott couldn’t teach for a few weeks while his face healed. Then Christmas vacation hit, the schools were closed, and another month went by without a paycheck.
I’m not ashamed to say we mostly live paycheck to paycheck these days. Seventeen years ago we decided to put our faith and family first and our careers second. Scott stopped flying. I stopped writing. We sold our big nice home and got us a little rental in Davis. I grew my first garden and had more babies. Scott became a teacher because he wanted to be a good father. He came home at dinner time each day and played with our kids instead of sleeping behind his desk at his office when he was a Counter Drug Commander.
We made far less income after Scott gave up his military career and I stopped writing but this gave us a far better life. Don’t ever forget the important things money can’t buy. Your children will grow up before you know it. Be present for them. Be present in your marriage. Be present for God. You can’t buy these gifts.
After we gave up chasing the almighty dollar and our own ambitions, God gave us a good future. He brought us home to the farm. But this good future hasn’t been easy. We are in a battle to make a living and the battle can be hard because life happens. Sickness comes. Insurance fails. Frost hits.
About five years ago, we fell into farming in earnest to pay a mountain of medical bills after I came down with melanoma and then was hospitalized with an exhaustion breakdown. I recovered, but our bank account never has. During these hard days, I learned a savings account won’t save you. Now we’re learning neither will a harvest. But God can save you.
I’m confident this cold, hard week is leading us into a warm, bright future. Why? Because God has promised to never leave or forsake us. God gave us this cold spell to warm our hearts more to Him. So we once again remember our hope is built on nothing less than God’s grace and good will. God gives and takes away, harvest or no harvest, you can trust Him. Lean on the Lord this cold, hard week. He’s there for you.