Farming and the Holy Spirit
This fall, I had two seemingly unrelated experiences that God used in my life. In the first, I had the privilege of attending the annual Men’s Retreat. The theme this year was Remote Control. The teaching centered around the significant influence that the Holy Spirit has on our lives. Immediately following the Men’s Retreat, I began the second experience which was to help my brother-in-law and my nephew with the fall harvest on their farm in western Minnesota. This included not only harvesting the soybeans and the corn but also tilling the soil to begin preparing it for planting the next crop in the spring.
The fall tillage is a process of digging the soil in a way that incorporates the left-over stalks back into the soil to begin composting them into nutrients for the next season. I was using a huge tractor to pull the digger. The tractor has an auto-steer feature which uses a computer with GPS technology to steer the tractor with no operator involvement in an absolutely straight line from one end of the field to the other. I press a button and then take my hands off the steering wheel and let the computer drive the tractor. At the end of the field, I disengage the auto-steer program and manually turn the tractor around to go back in the opposite direction and then re-engage the auto-steer program. The tractor is programmed to divide the field into increments the size of the digger so that by following the auto-steer program, there is no overlapping or skipping between passes with the digger. It maximizes the efficiency of the tractor and the digger.
The auto-steer program is designed to disengage anytime the steering wheel is turned and does not re-engage until the operator presses a button to re-engage the program. There is a computer screen which shows the operator the path the tractor will follow when the system is engaged. If the system is not engaged the screen still shows the path but the tractor does not automatically follow it. Like most people, I think I can drive a pretty straight line without using the auto-steer program. In reality tho, I will eventually either skip some ground or I will overlap some ground if left to my own talents.
At one point, we decided to keep the tractor and digger going around the clock with two of us each working twelve hour shifts. I got the night shift – lucky me! I find it interesting that God often uses the middle of the night as a time to get my attention. About 1:30 in the morning as I was maneuvering the digger around an obstacle in the field, the auto-steer program disengaged and I was manually driving the tractor. That’s when my mind went back to the Men’s Retreat and how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. I thought “I get it!”.
The Holy Spirit is much like the auto-steer program in that (1) he is there to keep me on a straight path when I rely on Him. And (2) just as I can drive pretty straight without the auto-steer program, eventually I will drift off course. So, too, without the Holy Spirit’s guidance I can lead a pretty good life but eventually I will drift off course. And (3) just as I can turn the steering wheel and manually override the auto-steer program I can exert my own free will and “manually override” the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And (4) just as the auto-steer program will not re-engage until I press the button, the Holy Spirit will not re-engage until I ask him. And (5) just as the auto-steer program will show me where I should be but will not put me there until I engage the system, the Holy Spirit will also show me where I should be but will not put me there until I invite Him to again guide my life. The Holy Spirit is like God’s auto-steer program! I got It!!!
Doug Dahl, Men’s Ministry