Last Saturday we had to leave the Farm early because Dad was an organizer of a men’s meeting that he had committed to with his friend a few months back. He did not want to leave the Farm. Scooping horse manure and managing the chaos with those kids is transforming him into a whole new man in Christ Jesus!
I digress for a moment to share with you a comment that one of the men made at the Bible study. At the meeting he declared that the older he gets the more he wants to be with his wife. Dad said that this statement resounded in his heart as well. (Sure made me feel good.) Tomo’s interest in his friend’s meeting is rapidly waning as he has discovered that there is more than just studying the Bible. Reminds me of the refrain from a song we used to sing about the Bible, “I read it and I do it.” For so long both of us have been frustrated knowing there is great need, “the fields are white for harvest,” not knowing where or how to engage. Certainly, I’ve tried many things that have fizzled out. We have never seen anything even remotely similar to what we are experiencing now. We never knew such a thing existed—or was even possible.
Last Saturday, we both felt cheated with only a couple hours on the Farm in the morning. When Tomo returned home after the Bible study, I suggested that we ask Dave and Athena if we could come visit for a bit. He was in complete agreement. We left our house about the time I’ve been going to bed lately. OK, you didn’t really need to know all of this background. Let me get to the meat of this story.
What stood out to Tomo from the Saturday night meeting with Dave and Athena was an illustration Dave provided about a ship at sea. It went something like this:
One stormy night, there was a ship in the ocean that happened upon 3 people drowning nearby. Life preservers were on the ship and a couple men on deck noticed the drowning people below. Instead of throwing the preservers to rescue these people, the men went below deck to study the manual so they would know exactly how to use those life preservers before attempting to throw them to the drowning people—fearful of misusing the PFDs. Besides, they had never done this before so they had to be sure they were doing everything exactly right. Meanwhile, time was closing in on those drowning people as their opportunity to be saved was diminishing.
Of course, this story clearly illustrates what we as Christians are doing when studying the Bible in the comfort of our homes while the world cries out for us to rescue them with the good news of the Gospel. It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work reaping the harvest that is out there ready for the reaping.
Tomo said that he wants the things he’s learning at Hand in Hand Farm to change him. Mr. Dave corrected him and said that he should be thinking about how to reach the next 50 families. God will provide the tools and the skills as needed. What a different perspective; and how obvious this is now that we are becoming aware of it.
Holiness at the outhouse and lost at sea are the Farm lessons I want to share with you today. May you be blessed and encouraged as you go about your week.
It started with Janet and my first visit to the Farm. As Mr. Dave began the tour of Hand in Hand Farm, he showed us the outhouse. I have included a picture of it in this letter so you can visualize what I’m talking about. Mr. Dave explained the importance of standing a ways away when it is occupied, even from the gate that surrounds it. Why? To provide privacy for the person using it. This is a simple act of respect for the individual. You can see in the picture that this is so highly valued at the Farm that he has even surrounded the outhouse with high fencing to enforce this rule. What could have prompted such a thing?
Well, at one time Dave was giving an especially cute little girl and her mother a tour of the Farm. When they came to the outhouse, this little girl asked where the cameras and cameramen go. You see, this little girl’s mother was profiting from the sale of photos of her little girl. An unthinkable thought for us.
As Tomo reflected on this, his mind drifted to Moses and the Burning Bush,
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb,the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. (Ex. 3:1-9, NIV).
Moses and the Burning Bush became rhema to Tomo as God spoke to his spirit the significance of God’s holiness, respect, and distance. A whole new perspective on God’s holiness came to the forefront of his thinking through the fenced in outhouse.
We must enter into the presence of our God with respect and holiness. In the same way, we must approach our fellow man with respect and holiness—respectful of each individual, allowing a certain distance. You see, God is giving your dad heart knowledge of the well-known head knowledge that the spirit of God resides in each one of us and it is our duty to honor God within the individual. Of course, we are human and sinful by nature, yet God’s fingerprint resides in each one of us. Honor and respect this in the individual. Good heavens, God so loved the world [that includes you] that He gave His only Son. If almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, was willing to die for you, certainly the least I can do is respect and honor you as a fellow human being, loved beyond measure by God. And, as your mother, blessed beyond measure that the Lord chose to place you in my life until my days on earth are done. Fortunately, I will likely never be asked to die for you. It is my duty to give you respect, honor, and space as I remove my shoes while approaching the holy ground that resides in your being. Respect and holiness revealed at the outhouse. This sheds a whole new light on the verse about God choosing the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (I Cor. 1:27).