Pastoral Ponderings—Tractor Lovin’
I almost feel real now! Real in reference to my gentleman farmer role at least. We finally bought a small farm tractor for our farm property last week—a 1954 Ford Golden Jubilee, for those of you who care. I’ve been keeping my eye out for one off and on since we purchased the property, but heard that used tractor sales are very seasonal, and you can’t get a decent price until after fall harvests. I’ve been looking for one in particular that has a front end loader—they’re harder to come by, especially for a decent price—but that’s what I finally found. And in talking with my friends with farm experience, word is that the Golden Jubilee is a great one to find, so I’m even more blessed!
The tractor is the workhorse around the acreage, whether for the farm part or in managing with wooded part too. The three-point hitch and the Power Take Off (commonly called the PTO), letting you use the tractor power for all kinds of implements, makes it a very versatile tool—especially with the loader in front– but the tractor itself is the one thing really does all the work.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had one such powerful and versatile tool in our daily lives, and in each of our spiritual journeys, that would have the flexibility, yet the power as well, to do most of our heavy lifting? Well, now that you mention it, we do! Jesus was asked a question along those lines, of how to do all that God requires—and His answer was so simple—Love God, love neighbor—that’s it! And Jesus explicitly tells us that “the whole law of the prophets” hangs on this—like the implements on a tractor, everything else hangs on this!
I gotta confess, though, my tractor is a bit messy, but what do you expect for something that’s been around that long? The ignition switch needs some help, some of the hydraulic seals are leaking pretty badly, and it will take a bit of upkeep from time to time to keep it going. Well, Jesus’ Greatest Commandment has been around a long time, too, and it’s a bit messy sometimes, and also needs some regular maintenance as well. It can sometimes be messy to love those dearest to us, not to mention how messy it can get loving those we don’t even like! But that doesn’t change the fact that both sides of this Greatest Commandment are still the powerhouse to get things done.
Since Jesus was a first century Jew, it’s probably safe to say that when He used that word “love,” he was likely thinking of the ancient Hebrew term used to describe God’s kind of love, which is hesed, used some 250 times in the Old Testament. Hesed, God’s kind of love Jesus was talking about, is a verb, not an emotion—“Hesed is not merely an emotion or feeling but involves action on behalf of someone who is in need” (www.gotquestions.org/meaning-of-hesed.html). You don’t even have to know, let alone like the neighbor God calls us to love—Jesus demonstrates what He means with this so clearly with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
I imagine there will be times that I fuss at, kick and yell at that tractor as I use it and struggle with it in the years to come, but that will never change how important that one powerful, versatile tool is to me. I don’t always like loving either—but does it really matter if I like it or not, as long as I’m still loving?
Still growing—Pastor Jim