Expectations urge us forward or hold us back; they hold weight or perhaps place it heavier on our shoulders (or the shoulders of those for whom we have expectations). But as people of faith we live constantly in expectation of the fulfillment and completion of God’s work. And as followers of Christ we grasp tightly to the Word, its revelations of God, His story, and His people. In Proverbs 23, we are given these encouragements: “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is a latter end [a future and a reward], and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way [of the Lord].” (Emphasis mine.) We may think we have ideas of God’s future plans but above all else we have the pure and simple gift of Hope. That today is not the end, no matter who is still breathing, and our role as farmers and food makers and land lovers is Spirit-driven glory work, our vocation. But be not hindered by the seat in a tractor, the handle of the hoe, or the cloud pouring out its innards, and instead listen for the guidance of the Lord and the wild and crazy things God might be asking of us, the humble farm folk. How can we be ushering in the Kingdom, in ways your fifteen-year-old FFA self never thought of?
God is full of promises; promises birth expectations in us, impacting our attitude. It is right to have high expectations of God fulfilling His many promises, as Scripture and history and the Church show us over and over and over. But when we are frustrated with God, our environment and our conditions, asking that why over and over, it’s good to question whether our emotions are the result of us creating expectations that God has not actually promised, or maybe impatience for what He has promised. The expectations we should have of God should lead us always back to hope and peace, like Paul and Silas in Acts 16 singing hymns in prison after being flogged while other prisoners listened, observing their response to adversity and hardship and dirty floors and communal toilets. But because their hope and peace came from faith in God’s promises and holding fast to what He has done, expectant of what He is to do, their foundational joy was unshaken.
Well, for Healthy Homestead and the Reishus family at R.C. Ripberger Farm, the days and years have been rough and the material hopes of success have been oft squished and squandered. What if, in our disappointment, we had left up that fence, bulldozed the silo base, left our homestead, and turned away from the possibility of better, the opportunity of more? The cattle roam other pastures and now we get to party on the old paddock. I enjoy the change in landscape, the music of guitars and saxophones in the space that once echoed the moos of mama cows and baby heifers. And now, take a look around you; what do you see? Failure or promise? Stillness or faithfulness? Those who farm know that what we once did is no longer enough. We know that our families need more to survive than the honorable duty of managing plains and rolling fields that over generations have been gathered and split. Food may be your focus but we are relational people, image-bearers of the Triune God, and our skills and passions are generally multifaceted.
Jake’s boot got stuck in the mud those many years ago but we did not. We’re checking expectations and more than just the pasture has experienced change, choosing to accept the gift of faith and hope. Join us; where is God guiding you? What space, thing, being can you help enter into its becoming?
Shameless plug: We’re amping up for the 2018 Summer Silo Series and are looking for supporting partners as well as finalizing our call for musicians. Any musicians interested in applying please send contact info and music samples (any genre/must be family friendly) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsorship starts at $175 and includes many benefits.
–Magdalene A.R. Mastin is a wife and mother of two who recently returned to her family’s organic farm in central Indiana to work, write and raise her family. She is an avid photographer, as seen by the photos in this blog.