The Farmer

September 30.
In Israel, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated. People rest from work and the ram’s horn sounds during a special memorial service.
In southern Taiwan an unusually large flock of 126 migrant ibises are sighted in a field: white with long curved black bills, black heads and black tails.
And in Choujhou, a farmer bends over another field. He doesn’t wear a Chinese hat: his graying hair is easy to see along with his white shirt as he works slowly down the rows of his garden. He is lanky and agile; his arms are the color of light brown chocolate. In his right hand he wields a curved knife, cutting away weeds that crowd the edges of each row.
He is an inspiration to watch. I wonder “What will he do when he reaches the end of the row?”
After completing some more personal projects I returned to the window. He was much closer to the row’s end, making the repetitious strokes with regularity and care. At last he reached the end–and turned the corner finishing off the edges. And then he stood up. And turned around.
With a brush of his sleeve he wiped the sweat off his brow. He swung his hands a little bit almost in glee and though I couldn’t see his face I could discern a sense of great satisfaction.
We all have the same privilege: to live and work in co-operation with God’s creation designs and glorify Him with the harvest.
“What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith. He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God hath done it, that men should fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-14, ASV).


  1. James October 5, 2008 at 6:43 pm #

    October 5, 8:30.

    In Chicago Illinois, James is sitting at the computer reading after a restful Sunday and before a whirlwind Monday. The post is a perfect bed-time story! 🙂

  2. Daniel October 7, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    What a reassuring thought, Donald. I shouldn’t enjoy good in FINISHING all my labor, but IN it! God has given us the wonderful gift of being able to be satisfied while we are working towards the goal, not necessarily after we’ve reached it. Knowing that brings such peace – why is it so contrary to my natural inclinations??

  3. Crystal October 7, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    What a timely (pun intended) reminder to enjoy the seasons that God gives to us. Your story goes along excellently with the book of Ecclesiastes, which btw, the pastor of the church we are currently attending has been going through.

  4. Mom & Dad October 9, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    What a refreshing and inspiring way to give us a glimpse into your world.

  5. Donald October 9, 2008 at 10:28 pm #

    This morning the farmer was up and at work long before I was (6:00). Even though this is a national holiday (“Independence Day for Taiwan”) he was still steadily at work, at least for the cooler morning hours. There was a stray dog to chase away. I too continue to be challenged to take joy IN my work–all along the way. And yesterday, amidst teaching and traveling the Lord brought two new birds. With the help of a teacher from Nan Jung named Mao, I was able to understand the Chinese field guide and identify the first one: a Blue Rock Thrush, somewhat similar to an American Robin. The second bird was sighted right out our window, between the apartment buildings and the farmer’s field.
    PS In case anyone was wondering, no I didn’t get to see the ibises mentioned in the post, though they weren’t far from here. I heard about it through the Oriental Birding newsletter. Lord-willing, November will bring ibises and spoonbills.

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