My definition of a farm: A place where the main purpose of business is to cultivate life. A place to nurture life, a place to plant seeds and watch them grow, to feed, nourish and support them during the stages of their growth. And, in due season to harvest the crop.
The business of the mission farm is not to plant cash crops to harvest for a profit. The business of the mission farm is to plant spiritual seeds into people, and when they grow into a life dedicated to living for Jesus Christ, to harvest them for God. A harvest for Jesus Christ is of more profit than all the gold and silver in the world.
Though the mission farm is not in the business of crops or animals for a profit, there are animals here. There are a few of the normal, (that is if you want to call them normal) domestic farm animals here, i.e.; cows, horses, chickens, and even a goat. Also it seems like every stray dog and cat in this part of the state finds their way here. There is also an abundance of the wildlife type animals here, i.e., deer, wild turkey, raccoons, possums, foxes, coyotes, etc. I am a man that loves almost all animals. Though there are a few kinds of animals that I do not particularly care to have any where around me, i.e., skunks, rattle snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, etc., they are all created by God for a purpose.
Being a man that likes animals, I spend some of my time watching and observing them. In my observations, I have discovered simple yet profound truths from God. I have found that people and animals have a lot more in common than we, as people want to admit.
There are about a half dozen cats that call the farm home, that is they hang around on a regular basis. There are probably another half dozen cats that will occasionally drop in for a couple of days to visit and get a full stomach, then they will just kind of disappear until they are hungry again.
The cats used to live out in the barn, but our milk cow broke, (What happened to her is a long word that I cannot even pronounce, let alone try to spell, but the bottom line is that we cannot milk her anymore.). So the cats moved out of the barn to ply their trade as hunters. A couple of them were not very good hunters; they soon begin to look like they were just about to starve to death. Being the way that I am, I took pity on them and started buying them cat food. Before I knew it, there were at least six of them waiting for breakfast every morning and they were not the least bit shy in letting me know when I was late.
I found that a couple of them were real friendly, I couldn't go outside without them being under foot, tripping me with every step I took. I couldn't set down outside without them jumping on my lap and rubbing up against me. Whenever I went for a walk out in the woods after work, one of them would follow me like a puppy dog. A couple of them were friendly, but not overly so. I could pet them if I wanted to, but I would have to go to them. Occasionally they would come to me on their own accord, but when they did, it was obvious they wanted something. They would see me walking from the kitchen with something in my hand, and think it was food for them. Or, they would see me petting one of the other cats and would come over to get their fair share of ear scratching. Whenever they did come to me, I could tell they were there for their own reasons. Once that reason was fulfilled, or they found it was not going to be fulfilled, they would move on.
A couple of the cats were wild and somewhat mean. I don't think mean is the best word to use though, maybe just plain wild is the best description. They wanted food and food only. They did not want to have any kind of friendship with me. All I needed to do to find this out was to stick my hand down to pet them. My gesture of friendship was met with growls, snarls, and hisses, followed by razor sharp claws and teeth.
The first time I drew my hand back in pain covered with scratches, I decided it would be the last time my hand would be bloodied by them in an offer of friendship. My first response was to never feed them again, to let them fend for themselves against the dogs, and If they starved to death, then so be it, that would have to be the price they pay for repaying my offer of friendship with acts of violence.
I soon realized that I could not feed the friendly cats that I liked, without also feeding the hostile cats that I didn't like. I suppose I could have tried to chase them off, but by doing so, then I would have probably chased the ones I liked away also. Besides, even though they angered me by causing me physical pain, I really didn't want any harm to come to them. After all, they were just being cats, cats that had grown up wild.
A few days later while I was feeding the cats, it suddenly dawned on me that God has the same kind of situation to deal with. His situation is not with cats, but with people. There are some people, who, when they come to know God, instantly will turn all there love to Him. They will continually give their love to and show their love for God, without being the least bit bashful about showing they are living for Jesus Christ.
There are some people who love God only when they are being cared for. They come to God on their own accord only when they want something. They come to church on Sunday morning to be spiritually fed. As soon as they walk out the church door, they leave God behind and forget about Jesus to join in the worldly affairs until the following Sunday when it is spiritual feeding time again. The only time they come to God between spiritual feedings is when they have a want or need. They will drop In on God in prayer, with their temporary show of love, all the while saying; "God I need to be healed, or Jesus I want a better job, or, God help me through the conflicts that I am facing," or for whatever their own selfish reasons are. As soon as their needs are met, or they decide that God will not fulfill their wants, they leave God, they forget about Jesus, to rejoin the world once again. They love Jesus at their own convenience. If God's will for them does not coincide with their own, they will by choice follow their own will.
There are some people who are openly hostile towards God. Some of these people refuse to accept the existence of God. Others throw obscenities openly at God. Some will say, "If there is a living God, then why does He allow this or that to happen?" Others will say, "If there is a God, then why does He not show Himself openly for all to see?" And there are others who will challenge God, cursing Him to His face saying, "If there is a God in heaven, then come down and fight me like a man, prove to me that you are mightier than me." (God has come to the earth as a man, Jesus Christ our Savior came, not to fight us or destroy us or even condemn us, but to save us. However, the time is soon coming when Jesus will come again, but this time when He comes it will be to crush His enemies forever.) Even though these people are openly hostile towards God, God still loves them and does not want any harm to come to them. For it is Gods will that every man be saved.
Instead of drawing my hand back that the cats had scratched, I could have with the same bloody hand killed them, but I didn't. I could have neglected or chased away the cats that only came around when they wanted something, but I didn't. I could have taken in only the cats that I liked, to take care of, to supply their basic needs and do whatever else that I thought would make their lives more enjoyable, but I didn't. I fed all the cats the same food, I gave them all the same extra special things. I gave all of them my love whether they accepted it or not, or returned it or not.
God loves us more than can be humanly described. God's love for us is infinite. God hates sin, but He loves the sinner. He loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ my Savior, to save us from the penalty of our sins, which is death. The way I responded to the cats is in somewhat the same way God has already responded to mankind. But God's response is more loving than I will ever be able to comprehend. Jesus spoke His Father's response to us as seen in Matthew 5:45 (KJV), "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
Yes, God sends His rain and His sunshine on the evil and on the good. Gods love for us is so great, so tremendous, that He sent His only begotten Son, to die on the cross for us. His Son our Savior, Jesus Christ, came for us out of His extraordinarily grand love for the Father, and for us.
With just a whisper of a word, God could destroy all who rebel against Him. All that are hostile toward Him could be swept away with a single sweep of His mighty hand, but He doesn't. God could neglect and chase away the people who come to Him only when they want or need something, but He doesn't. God could take in and give His love and blessings only to those who love Him, but He doesn't. God gives His love and blessings to us all, whether we accept it or not, or return it or not. God hates sin, but He loves the sinner.
Yes, God sends His cleansing rain and His warm sun for nourishment to the just as well as to the unjust. But of more importance to us, God has sent His Son to cleanse us from our sins and to nourish us in our growth with Him.
We may chose to arch our backs in rebellion and hiss out anger towards God. In our own will, we may live our lives in darkness, hiding from the light of His Son. If we so desire, we may carry an umbrella to shield ourselves from the cleansing rain of His Son. We may even choose to live our lives in the darkness of hatred and rebellion, which leads to an eternal life of darkness in hell.
Or, by the grace of God, we may chose to repent of the life of hiding in darkness, to live in the light of the life of the Son, Jesus Christ. We may by our own will, put our umbrellas aside so we may be cleansed of all unrighteousness in the rain of Him who forgives sin. By the grace of God, if we so desire, we may daily pick up our cross and follow Jesus, walking in the light of His sun (Son), drinking in His rain from the river of life, following on His path, to an eternal life with God in heaven.
Our God is an awesome God. In His great love He sends His rain and His sun on the good, the evil, the just, and the unjust. In His loving wisdom, God has given us the freedom to decide for our own selves whether we will pick up an umbrella and walk in darkness, or to pick up our cross and walk in the cleansing light of His Son, Jesus Christ. You make the choice.
Even though God's love for us is of a much more greater magnitude than what I have for the cats, I would like to use the cats again as another example. When I first begin to take care of the cats, there was one cat that was more hostile than all the others. If I walked within ten feet of him, he would arch his back and growl at me. He would even hiss and snarl while I was putting food in the cats feed bowl. Let me tell you, he was one vicious cat. I would no sooner put my hand down to him in friendship than I would to a rattlesnake. But there has come to be a change about him. He is now probably the most loving of the cats. If I am setting outside and not petting him, he will climb up on my shoulder and meow in my face until I do. He even tries to share his food with me. I keep trying to convince him,(I guess I can't convince him because I do not know how to talk in cat language.), that I do not eat mice or ground squirrels and such things. But he will bring me things that he has caught, as if to say, this is a gift for you in exchange for what you have given me.
After seeing the change in this one cat, I can now somewhat understand the verse In Luke 15:7 (KJV), "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repeneth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Whether you have just made the choice to follow Jesus, or if the decision was made many years ago, other people look to you to see God's rain and sun. No matter how good and righteous we see ourselves as currently being, (Please don't fall into that trap of the devil.), we must always remember Romans 3:23 (KJV), "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." A person who you think is buried to deep in sin to be able to repent and come to Jesus. A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, maybe a prostitute, or a thief. Or, maybe a person full of anger bursting out in violent rage. Just whatever you see in a person which you consider as impossible to bring to repentance. That person just maybe might become a pleasant surprise to you.
Do not judge those who are around you, as you did in the old sin nature. Let the light of Jesus which is in you shine out upon all those around you, whether they be good or evil. Let the river of living water, which is Christ within you, flow from your belly to rain upon the just as well as the unjust. Who knows, maybe that one slight ray of light, or that one drop of rain might be what it takes to turn that impossible sinner to repentance, and the love and grace of God.
The cat saw the limited love that is in me, and he responded. He changed from a vicious attack cat, to a gentle, loveable, bundle of fur. I pray that the unlimited love of Jesus will shine out through me and all my fellow believers, to those who do not believe. And that those who are unbelievers will respond to what they see, (That is Jesus living in me and His love shining out through me.). That there lives will change because of what they see, and that they too will get their purr boxes going in high gear for the love of Jesus.
Praise God, Hallelujah, Amen.