When that window shattered into 7 billion pieces, a sliver stuck my heart and maybe a sliver is all we ever have?
I have only thought of that window and what the Farmer said literally a hundred times since it happened — and how we as a family have all returned to the story countless times, as this moment that forever changed how we see the world and everything that happens in it.
It wasn’t so much that our farm boy had turned the tractor too sharp in the middle of wheat harvest, how many harvests ago.
And it wasn’t that he’d backed the tractor into the auger of the wagon hitched behind him.
It wasn’t even so much that the steel auger had slammed into the full window of the tractor — exploding the glass into a torrent of shards all over our boy, the tractor cab, across the yard.
It was the way I saw our boy turn his face, turn away from the sharp edge of the moment.
I can still see it now, how many years later — the way he turned to hide what was slipping down all salty and stinging wet, our boy more broken than any pane of glass.
The farm boy had swept a million shards of glass off his lap.
Brushed those stinging tears away with the back of his hand.
And then I watched the farm boy drive the tractor back out to the field, back to the Farmer in the combine, back to fill up with his next load of wheat.
How did he know? That even when we’re broken, we battle onward, all the fixing coming in the moving forward.
When the Farmer looks up from the combine steering wheel to his boy in the shattered tractor, he nods quiet. The farm boy turns his eyes away.Sometimes it’s hard to look love square in the eye and accept how you’re accepted. Is this why we too often turn from God?
I crawled up in the combine cab, sat down beside the Farmer. The Farmer hits the button and the combine auger begins to unload into the farm boy’s wagon.
“What do we do?” I hardly murmur it above the roar of the combine, my hands twisted and wrung in my lap.
The Farmer senses my words more than he hears them. He knows that I don’t for one hot second mean the window. I can’t look away from our son bent and busted over that tractor steering wheel.
“You know how it is, Ann…” The Farmer glances over at the wagon, our son driving alongside of us, and then back to the wheat he’s combining.
“From where we stand, we can’t see whether it’s something’s good or bad. All we can see is that God’s sovereign and He is always good, working all things for good.”
The wheat’s bowed before the combine, willing.
“The window’s gone and the tractor cab dented and sure, we can think about how shook up and heartsick our boy is, and we can think about the cost… but how do we know if this is really a bad thing?” The Farmer’s speaking quiet, focused on the wheat heads laying down before the combine.
“You know that story you told me years ago — the story of the white horse? Well — I think this is another White Horse Hour.”
How a white stallion had rode into the paddocks of an old man and all the villagers had congratulated him on such good fortune.
And the old man had only offered this: “Is it a curse or a blessing? All we can see is a sliver. Who can see what will come next?”
When the white horse ran off, the townsfolk were convinced the white stallion had been a curse. The old man lived surrendered and satisfied in the will of God alone: “I cannot see as He sees.”
And when the horse returned with a dozen more horses, the townsfolk declared it a blessing, yet the old man said only, “It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”
Then the man’s only son broke his leg when thrown from the white stallion. The town folk all bemoaned the bad fortune of that white stallion. And the old man had only offered, “We’ll see. We’ll see. It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”
When a draft for a war took all the young men off to battle but the son with the broken leg, the villagers all proclaimed the good fortune of that white horse. And the old man said but this,“We see only a sliver of the sum. We cannot see how the bad might be good. God is sovereign and He is good and He sees and work all things together for good.”
Hasn’t that been the lie right since our Genesis beginning – that we can see?
When we ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Satan hissed then that we’d know what is good and evil — that we’d really see.
But the father of lies, he’d duped us in the whole nine yards. Though we ate of that tree we did not become like God.
We have no knowledge of good and evil apart from God. Our heart optics are not omniscient.
How can I really see if a seeming disaster or dilemma, is actually dire?
How do we know if what looks like its the worst might be for our best, how do we know if what looks all wrong could turn things all right, how do we know if what seems wrong isn’t actually part of writing a redemptive story?
My focus need only be on Him, to only faithfully see His Word, to wholly obey.
Therein is the tree of life.
The Farmer slows towards the end of the field. Turns off the combine auger.
The farm boy nods to his dad through that hole where there used to be a window. The window that broke — but who are we to see?
The son pulls the now full wagon toward the grain bin and the unloading of his load.
“Yes – it’s just a White Horse Hour.” The Farmer turns on the headland, pulls back into the field.
He looks up at the farm boy headed towards the bin.
“We may have taken a boy to the field. But I think we may be bringing home a man. God’s only up to good work.”
I had reached over and lay my hand on the knee of the Farmer’s work worn wranglers. Say it quiet. “All we can see is Christ – and in Him all is always grace.”
And now, how many harvest years later, those two words of the parable, “White Horse,” have become part of the dialect of our family, part of our vernacular, a shorthand phrase of surrender, of acknowledging that we are not God Most High on the throne, so we don’t have the perspective to know.
An accident? White Horse.
A disappointment? White Horse.
A seeming failure? White Horse.
Everything going wrong? White Horse.
All of our hours on this side of heaven are White Horse hours, until, someday heaven will be “standing open and there was …. a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True” Revelation 19:11.
Only the Rider of the White Horse, the One who is Faithful and True, can faithfully know how things truly are.
Only the One who is riding the White Horse, who comes riding in to rescue and restore us, knows the full story and how He is working all things to re-story us.
I don’t have to be able to see if something is good or bad, I just have to keep seeing how God is always good and we are always loved.
And I remember how I had turned that day and in the combine’s rear view mirror, how I could see it, a few stalks of wheat standing there, and I see just what we always have, what we can always only see —
Just a sliver, a sliver of the sum, swaying behind us there in a whisper of wind.
Pick up our story of The Broken Way and how to live and love in a brokenhearted world. This one’s for all of us who have felt our hearts break a bit…
This one’s for the brave and the busted and the real and dreamers and the sufferers and the believers.