(Note: I wrote this very late in the evening on Sunday, October 14, 2018, so I’m publishing it on the 15th.)
So this happened this morning:
“Oooh, so pretty!” you say, and you’re right. It is gorgeous. The sunrise, the new-fallen snow, I tell you what, God knows how to do a snowy sunrise right.
But it’s too early. It’s only October 14th. It comes on the heels of an unseasonable week and a half of rain (thank you, tropical storm something-or-other). And we’re farmers.
Lemme ‘splain for those of you who aren’t farmers. October is usually when we combine beans and corn. We can’t combine beans and corn in the mud. We can’t combine beans in the snow. Corn we can, but only after the ground has frozen so that it’s not mud anymore, which it hasn’t yet. My dad isn’t getting too antsy to get in the field yet, but I’ve heard of farmers who are. We don’t even have it too bad. My brother has a friend who lives north of us, almost to North Dakota. Apparently he heard of some places there where they got eleven inches of snow on beans, and it crushed the beans. They’re trying to figure out how to harvest a crop that is lying on the ground, too low for a bean head to scoop up the beans (after the snow has melted and the mud dried up, of course).
And guys, it’s been a really good year. Like I said in my last post, we had rain this year! We didn’t get hailed out like some people, we didn’t get too much rain like other people. This was shaping up to be a really good year, until it came time for the harvest.
This morning in church we had baptisms, so Pastor was dressed in a t-shirt and swimming trunks to start out the service and he joked about not checking the weather forecast before he got dressed. We laughed, but there was some tension in the laughter. There’s a lot of farmers in church. Pastor knows that, knows how important farmers are to our local economy. He normally doesn’t do a pastoral prayer during the service, but today he did, and he prayed specifically for the farmers. He asked God to make the conditions suitable for harvesting, to which we all said a hearty (mental) amen! (We’re a predominately white northern church – we don’t speak out during the service.) He asked God for safety for the farmers, which was much appreciated (especially by the farm women for whom that is a constant prayer). Then, at the very end of his prayer he asked God to exceed the expectations we had of the harvest.
We thought our expectations were pretty high, up to this point. Now we’re like, “God? Um, You don’t have to stop the blessings now. You can keep going, just keep things nice and dry for harvest.” That’s our hope and expectation: just to get the already sufficient harvest into the grain bins. That would be enough for us. But for Pastor to ask God to exceed our harvest expectations? That’s too much. That’s a brash prayer. A bold prayer that appears more impossible with each day it rains or snows. And when Pastor prayed that prayer today it was like God hit me right between the eyes.
“I like that,” He said. “I like it when you expect me to do big things, bold things, brash things. Don’t bring your puny expectations to me. Bring Me the big things. Bring Me the challenges. Don’t pray prayers expecting Me just to answer them, pray prayers expecting Me to exceed your expectations. I’m a big God, and I love big prayers.”
I’ve been praying little prayers. Well, not little exactly, but my expectations have been pretty low. You all know I’ve been asking God to put Trent and I back together. But I’m still expecting that to not happen. I’m expecting God to release me from that and give me a different prayer. I’d be happy if God just gave me a different prayer to pray. That’s an easy, low expectation.
But what if He answers “yes” to that prayer?
It scares me, if I’m honest.
Today God said “Stop expecting so little of me, Anessa.”
I just wrote about how hard it is being alone. But alone is safe. I know being alone. Alone is hard, but alone isn’t challenging. You know what would be challenging? Moving 14 hours away from my family. Marrying a guy and learning how to live with him and love him well. Serving in a multi-cultural environment in an inner-city ministry. Dealing with the complexities of a blended family and learning how to love and help raise a precious little girl without overstepping her mother’s authority. Becoming part of a new family with different traditions and expectations. That would stretch me. That would make me (and my family and Trent) grow in ways I can’t grow in my current setting and situation. The way God’s been working in my life lately makes me think that I won’t get away with not being challenged by something of that magnitude. God’s begun a work in my life, and He’s not going to stop until it’s completed. That’s usually stated as a comforting phrase, but what about the times when you know that that work is going to be hard and painful and challenging, but probably pretty good?
We’ll get the harvest in sooner or later, the forecast for this week is sunny and 60’s, so we’re hopeful. We’re expecting big things.