I seem to be diving into the farming and the agrarian life more and more each year, and without fail, in those quite hours in the fields, I learn more and more about the nature of sin and the necessity to deal swiftly with it.
Just the other day, I ventured up to the sledding hill with my daughter. She asked if she could raise a butterfly and so we went looking for milkweed pods. As we walked, I told her the story of how my brother and I, as children, hatched a Monarch butterfly from a cocoon that we had found and preserved, and how each summer, that butterfly would circle our backyard as we ate dinner on the deck. Approaching the hill, she told me that she was nervous about the ticks that would be up on that field.
As I finished the story, we spotted some young milkweed and instantly I knew that her dream could not be. You see, milkweed is toxic to our sheep. In fact, we lost a young ram last winter and our belief is that there was milkweed in the hay bale given that day. So as we walked among the toxic stalks, I remembered that this field is about to be cut, dried and baled for winter hay. I needed to get busy pulling every milkweed stalk I could find, before the “hay man” cometh.
I returned later that day with a trailer and scoured that field, pulling every milkweed stalk I could find, large or small. As I did so, the word “toxic” kept running through my head. What are the areas in our lives that are toxic and potentially deadly? In a country that is currently experiencing protests and riots, the sin of racism comes to mind right away. Viewing anyone as something other than “a child of the living God” is certainly a source of toxic sin that can lead quickly to dissension and hate. As we recall in 1 John 3:15 “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” And John goes on to call us to lay down our lives for our brothers and share with every brother in need. This is love in action.
The other thought that was running through my head as the trailer filled with this deadly weed, was my daughter’s concern about the ticks. A field ready for haying is made up of many grasses that are waist to chest deep, and nearly every day we see deer on that hillside. This is a perfect combination for the Lyme carrying Deer Tick. However, in order to preserve the life of my sheep, I needed to boldly step into dangerous terrain in order to weed out the deadly. I could worry about checking myself for ticks later.
Maybe, for you, racism is not the trouble spot, but maybe gossip lurks or jealousy lingers. Stepping into dangerous terrain may mean opening up a difficult conversation to get to the root of that toxic element in your life or sacrificing some pride or your ego on a journey to be free from that sin. And so I ask you this, “Where in your life is the Lord asking you to step into the dangerous in order to weed out the deadly, or the toxic?”