“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from a furnace.” Aldo Leopold penned these words decades ago reflecting on the crackling fire that warmed his shins on a cold winters day at his Sand County, Wisconsin, farm. Each time I lay a split of oak upon the andirons, this account comes to mind. What does this mean for us in a modern world of mobile applications, heaters of every kind, and too many mindless tasks that consume our lives? Our ancestors didn’t have a choice–a life of leisure was typically short, unproductive, and unfulfilling.
We fill our lives today with all the things we think we should do as “Americans”, and even as “good Christians”. But what are our intentions? To live the American dream? To die with the most toys and highest net worth? What about working intentionally at every task we undertake to accomplish the calling we have been given? I believe the Word is clear that we are not to be slothful (Colossians 3:23, Proverbs 20:4, Proverbs 24:30-34, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 are a few verses that come to mind). We can’t, however, rely on our own strength and wisdom (Proverbs 3:5, Matthew 6:25), as they will always be insufficient to meet our needs.
Each time my saw penetrates an oak log, I think forward to the heat it will provide the following winter. The thought that my work will soon pay off spurs me on through the task, and my heart smiles once the process has come full circle again. Spiritual obedience also leads to joy, as God uses our obedience to accomplish the results He has already ordained. Trust Him. Work hard. Live in Sabbath rest knowing that the results belong to Him. Minister to my wife, children and those He has entrusted to my influence, and be intentional about these things.
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” Proverbs 6:6-11.
The oak continues to burn upon the andirons, as the labor of prior months now warms us on a cold February day. The sleet and ice lay stacked up outside, and more is on the way. I’m betting the ant is headed back to the wood pile.