how to be outstanding in your field

Knee high by the first of July is what they say.

That’s how high the corn needs to be in this neck of the woods by that day on the calendar, if we are going to make crop before fall and first frost.

When we walk the fields in early evening, he says it too, how he had wondered if we’d make it this year.





“Hardest spring I’ve ever had. All that rain.” He kneels down in the dirt, scoops up a handful of soil.

“Just so cold and wet. That He even let us get any seeds in at all.”

Year before, we had had corn in the ground by April 19th. This year, it was into the second week of May before we turned back the dirt and laid down our hopes. Would we make crop?

“I’m not really thinking there’ll be bumper yields this year.” He lets the earth fall away from his palm, dust returning. What is ours to rightly hold onto? Only grace fits right in the palm of our hands.

I walk behind him as he walks the rows, worn hands fingering leaves, looking for weeds, hands running up firm corn stalks. I know it, all these years, how he prays. The Farmer knows it, all these years, how we live only by His mercy. A man can make his plans but all his plans are in bigger and better hands than his.

He turns over a bean leaf, runs a finger along a vein of the backside.

“Aphids coming on.”

I bend to see the sea of green pests noching on our soybeans. He glances up and to the west, where it always comes from. “A good rain might help wash them off.”

Knees bent low in July, there is what is before us, what is ours to do in the fields before the harvest, the way a man bends before sovereignty…

the way a stalk surrenders to sky and yields.



Before me, even as behind,

God is —

and all is well.

– John Greenleaf Whittier –


At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation…

he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand…

~Daniel 4:34-35

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