I recently read a powerful story, recounted by Earl Nightingale, about a preacher traveling the countryside and a beautiful farm:
There’s a classic old story about a conversation between a farmer and a preacher. The story goes that the preacher was driving down a country road when he came upon the most beautiful farm he’d ever seen in his lifetime spent traveling rural roads. He could only compare it to a beautiful painting. It was by no means a new farm, but the house and buildings were well constructed and in perfect repair and paint. A garden around the house was filled with flowers and shrubs. A fine row of trees lined each side of the white gravel drive. The fields were beautifully tilled, and a fine herd of fat dairy cattle grazed knee-deep in the pasture. The site was so arresting the preacher stopped to drink it all in. He had been raised on a farm himself, and he knew a great one when he saw it.
It was then he noticed the farmer, on a tractor, hard at work, approaching the place where the preacher stood beside his car. When the farmer got closer, the preacher hailed him. The farmer stopped the tractor, idled down the engine, and then shouted a friendly “hello!” The preacher said to him, “My good man, God has certainly blessed you with a magnificent farm.” And then, there was a pause as the farmer took off his cape and shifted in the tractor seat to take a look at his pride and joy. He then looked at the preacher and he said, “Yes, He has, and we’re grateful. But you should have seen this place when He had it all to Himself.”
Well, the preacher looked at the strong, friendly features of the farmer for a moment, smiled, and with a wave of his hand climbed back in his car and continued on his way. And he thought, that man has given me my sermon for next Sunday.
Every farmer along this road and in this country has been blessed with the same land, pretty much, and the same opportunity. Each has worked his farm according to his nature. Every farm, every home of every family in the country is the living reflection of the people who dwell in it. He understood that the land we’re given was not the acres we buy for our farm or the lot on which we build or buy a home, but rather the life we give it, what we do with what we have. Our lives are our plots of ground, and that’s the land we sow and from which we are then obliged to reap the resulting harvest. And the way we’ve sown will be reflected in every department of our lives.
I share such a long excerpt with because what we do with the wonderful and amazing opportunity that is our life, is vitally important.
Our lives are the farms to which this story refers. We can know how well we’ve honored the gift and opportunity of life by what we have created thus far.
How is your health? Are you fit, strong, flexible and vibrant?
How is your mental life? Do you continue to explore and learn, keeping your mind and skills sharp?
What about your emotions and relationships? Are they healthy, nurturing and sustaining?
What about your spiritual life? Do you daily consider your place in the world, both privileges and responsibilities?
You can have a wonderful, intentional, life, or you have something else.
Which will you choose?