Sunday, January 31, 2016

The final planting

My father in law, Elwood Schwartz, passed away about 10 days ago.  He was a dairy farmer for most of his life...grew up on the farm that he eventually bought from his parents and worked it for over 30 years as he raised his own family there.  I had no experience with farmers before I met his beautiful daughter and visited the farm.  I was impressed with the breadth of knowledge, skill and faith that farmers have.  A dairy farmer, like him, has to have knowledge of crops, animals, machinery, weather, business and government regulation.  They really are masters of many skills and yet keenly aware of their reliance on God....they know the limits of their control.  Elwood was not a man of many words, but when he used words they were well chosen and to the point.  That probably reflected his efficient use of time.  When Shirley and I were married, we had to work our wedding schedule around the daily milking of the herd.  The cows were milked twice a day and you can't take a day off...the cows have to release their milk each day.  But the church we were married in was located on a corner of their farm...I believe the family had provided the land to the church a long time ago...and it was poignant to start our lives on the soil where my father in law and his family had made a living for so many years.  He planted corn and other crops every year...I believe most of these crops became food for the herd he milked.  So the routine of plowing, planting and harvesting was as important as the daily milking routine. 
Last Monday I was struck with a thought as the funeral was completed and we attended the graveside service.  At the end of the service at the gravesite we were given the opportunity to watch his casket  lowered into the ground.  I was struck that, in a sense, he was also being planted into the soil that had given him his living...that eventually he will be raised in the final harvest...the harvest of the Lord. 
Genesis 15:15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.
Rest and rejoice faithful father of my wife,
Rob Smith

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