Over a year ago I watched a film called Faith Like Potatoes. Weird title but a great film, based on a true story of a farmer turned preacher in South Africa.
Angus Buchan, a Zambian farmer of Scottish heritage, leaves his farm in the midst of political unrest and racially charged land travels south with his family to start a better life in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. With nothing more than a trailer on a patch of land, and help from his foreman, Simeon, the Buchan family struggles to settle in a new country. Faced with ever mounting challenges, hardships and personal turmoil, Angus quickly spirals down into a life consumed by anger, fear and destruction. This is a story that tells the moving life journey of a man who, like his potatoes, grows his faith, unseen until the harvest.
The Bible often brings up farming, for instance…
And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor (2 Timothy 2:6).
In this section, Paul brings up a farmer as one of three illustrations of a faithful minister of the gospel. The other two (soldier and athlete) probably sound more exciting. Although it’s not Paul’s intent, the truth is that a farmer leads quite an exciting life. He works one of the most dangerous careers a person can choose. Soldiers may face greater dangers from time to time, but a farmer lives and works between sky and earth every day. I recently discovered that in our time, farming outranks any other career in producing work-related injuries and death. Farming is not for dabblers, cowards, or the lazy. And farmers can teach us a lot about faith.
In comparison with athletics and soldiering, farming helps us understand the persistent and patient parts of faith. Action and results come fairly quickly for athletes and soldiers. Not for farmers. They place a seed in the ground and return to harvest the results, but it can be a long time between those two actions. Successful farmers know how to wait. They may not enjoy waiting; but they learn to do it. Waiting doesn’t usually mean doing nothing, but the hardest part of waiting is the waiting.
Farming comes up various times in scripture (sometimes the farmer represents God or the ministry of the gospel).
- Jesus used many farming situations in his parables (like Matthew 13:1-23).
- Paul discussed the parallels between farming and the development of believers (as in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9).
In 2 Timothy 2:6 we get to see ourselves as farmers. With that privilege comes responsibility. If we’re going to “enjoy the fruit” of our labors, then we better be “hardworking.” The farmer who is not hardworking will reap what he sows–little or nothing.
A wise farmer knows what he can’t do.
- He can’t put life in a seed.
- He can’t make it rain.
- He can’t force the seed to grow.
There’s much that’s out of his hands. But he does his part.
- He plants
- He waters
- He cultivates
- He waits
As believers, we plant seeds (acts of obedience to God) in one another’s lives. We deposit seeds (the gospel) in the lives of those who don’t know Christ. The actual results of these actions are in God’s hands. But we often get to be the first to enjoy those results because we’re there. If we recognize the way that we are farmers, we remember we’re in the field every day. Every moment becomes a new opportunity to persistently plant seeds and then patiently wait to see what God will do.
- Have you seen the film? It is well worth renting for your family movie night, and then discuss lessons seen in the film.
- How is your faith growing? Abundantly? Wonderful harvest? Bearing much fruit? Or is there a drought? Weeds springing up?
- What changes will you make to help cultivate your faith?
- How are you getting to know God better?
- What fruit do you see beginning to bud? Which fruit are ripe for harvest?
- What hired help do you need to farm better? To whom can you become accountable for your Christian growth and maturity?
- Can the Men of Steel help you to become a more productive farmer? (Next time we get together is April 30 at 7:30 am).