Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website

That’s Life

I resolved (while pigging out on Christmas leftovers) not to try to write profound words with which to address the new year. Neither will I cast a net off into the future and try to espouse how things might be.

I thought to write to you about faith for the living of each and every day. We don’t own the minutes, hours, nor days, do we? We don’t own the paths our feet will trod, nor the lives we will impact. There is no crystal ball into which our gaze will reveal a plan of life.

We are taught that we need to live by faith. Doing so, that faith will steer us through, around, over and under the great difficulties and grand wonderment we’ve inherited as citizens of a heavenly kingdom, loaned to earth for a season.

Spread across our Bible are rich resources that aid us in our quest. Supposedly we get smarter as we gain maturity. The Bible says that “The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight. Prize them highly, and you will be exalted; hug them close—you will be honored by the embrace. Wisdom will place on your head a fair garland and will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

“Listen, my child, and accept these words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble, (Proverbs. 4:7 -12).”

Several times during the holidays worried warriors beset me. Life dealt them a blow. They reeled in the aftermath. Defenses were charged. Their history and future were armed. Hands wrung and eyes moist, they begged wisdom in the light of some contemporary issue. My response is usually “how incredibly normal all this sounds.” Life has taught me that things sometimes just are. They require no understanding, no preparation, no defense and no explanation. Life flows from one episode to another. We tend to react as if it hops from one plateau to another. We get all tricked into thinking that we should react to the present as if that is all there is.

Monday is not like Sunday. Neither should we expect Tuesday to be a precursor of the balance of the week. We all spend way too much time thinking, planning, preparing for life, having been prompted by some current issue. Life is to be lived, not maneuvered.

Let me try to give an example of my instinctive wisdom. Just the other day a fellow parent was lamenting about the vicissitudes of parenthood. (Like I’m some expert, right?) It took a while for her to lay out the subject matter. I dutifully listened and smiled. My friend, thinking that I did not understand the importance of the crisis before us got agitated all the more. On and on went the lament. I braced for the onslaught.

Assignments of guilt were bantered about. Causes were examined, experts quoted. Philosophies rang out. I tuned in, thinking that we were finally getting to the end of the matter, or at least its narrative. Interposed amongst the dialogue I dangled a few morsels of “Farmerisms.” They seemed useful in continuing the saga. Finally, reaching an exhausted level my friend awaited my resolve. Body language rang out: “Your turn!”

I pointed out that all of the aforementioned was only useful if things were never going to change. Far too much effort and time are expended upon examination of life as if it were some rare culture growing in a laboratory. Life is what it is and it is never to be dealt with, related to, as if it were a stone monument. By the time we finish explaining our grand concern over this and that, the issue itself has begun to dissolve as time, characters, situations and calendars evolve.

To quote the sweetest, cutest, little former sixth grade teacher at LMS (Miss Kim, my daughter-in-law) we sometimes just “need to build a bridge and get over it.” She crossed her bridge to Northumberland, Heathsville.

Recently a friend was elected dad-for-the-day. Mom had already stayed home due to a sick child. Mom was needed back at the office. Now it was dad’s turn. He called up and opted out. Dads generally don’t have the equipment to stay at home with junior. Aside from blundering all about the place they usually end up creating more work for the moms. Anyway, about midway through the day at home my younger buddy takes inventory of his misfortune at being sick. Compounding the matter is the strange fellow who has decided to stay and attend his misery. Reaching the end of his patience, he offered as how things might be better if dad would just go and play with his stuff and leave him and his toys alone. My dad-friend was astounded. What a lesson he learned.

In spite of what you have read and been taught, quality time for a child is measured in seconds. Once an 18-year-old e-mailed us from school, texting: “Thanks mother for a great Christmas.” She shook with pride and with wonder, asking, did we even see him during the holidays? The wisdom rests in the fact that mom was just there.

Trust God with your life. Take your own hands off it. Stop trying to analyze every situation. Sure things are not what they used to be. Neither are they like they will be. God will see you through.