Keeping True

Most farmers I know don’t think in terms of degrees, minutes, and seconds. We don’t much concern ourselves with converting between true and magnetic north, or the angle of declination. Our goal is to plow a straight line and plant a straight row. Most folks who think that a simple task has never driven a tractor pulling a heavy implement across a wide, barren field. Disking my west pasture a few weeks ago reminded me how easy it is to get off course.

Without installing a GPS-based navigation system on your tractor, which beeps and alarms to tell you when you’re drifting off course, we rely on line-of-sight navigation. Using this tried-and-true method helps you stay on course (keep true) and prevents your row crops from looking like a drunkard planted them. The secret is fixing your waypoint (navigational reference) far enough ahead so you can check it during your journey and make minor corrections as needed. In small acreage farming, like my west pasture, I focus on fence posts at the other end of my field.

Many years ago, I learned a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. I also learned that maintaining a straight line on a tractor isn’t always that easy. Turning around the check on the implement you’re pulling or navigating a turn, it’s easy to drift off course. And if your waypoint is too close, you constantly have to select new ones and have no time to correct when you get off course. After completing my turning rows, I reminded myself of Luke 9:62.

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand
to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the
kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:62, NKJV)

As I prepared my field for planting, I thought about how important it is to keep our spiritual journey in faith on course. I remembered how my poor choice of spiritual waypoints early in my Christian life led me to drift off course and not reap the harvest God planned for me. Rather than keeping my eyes upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) as the old hymn proclaims, I looked upon man to show me how to live as a Christian. The results were many years of poor harvests.

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In realigning myself with Christ over 20 years ago, I discovered the story of Elisha and Elijah in 1 Kings 19. God helped me understand that to be a true follower of Christ, I had to let go of my past life and focus on the path He had long ago established for my life. While making my way back and forth across the field in straight lines, I remembered other examples of such faith.

I thought about the story of Cortés’ conquest of Mexico in 1519. As the story goes, after landing upon the shores of Mexico, the Spanish conqueror ordered his own fleet of ships to be burned. This was a message to his 600 men that there was no retreat, no surrender; it was victory or death. I wondered if the words of Luke 9:62 were going through any of their minds as they watched the ships burning. I also found myself singing the chorus of I Have Decided to Follow Jesus (based on the words of John 12:26) as I worked.

“I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.”

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As I close this week, I’ll share that God has blessed my planting. Since planting the winter wheat, He’s brought the abundant rain, sunshine, and temperatures needed to not only germinate the seed, but it’s already tillering. He has blessed our Cross-Dubya ranch with a good stand of wheat that ensures winter forage for our cattle.

I want to leave you with the encouragement found in Philippians 3:13. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I pray we keep Jesus as our waypoint as we navigate the uncertain days ahead. While uncertainty reigns supreme in this world, remember that as Christians, this is not our world. Our end game is spending eternity with God. Let us focus on that goal.

God’s blessings,

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46 thoughts on “Keeping True

  1. Two scriptures came to mind as I read -Psalm 16:8 -keeping the Lord always before me and Hebrews 4:16– when I sense going off course, I have access to Him and find mercy. You always give beautiful lessons to ponder. Thank you.

    1. Yes! So many great scriptures are available that exhort us to keep our focus on God and what He is doing instead of all the distractions that are happening around us. More great choices Ms. Marilyn. Thank you so much for adding to our conversation.

  2. Surveying taught me many lessons over the years, J.D. , including how to work with courses and distances. Some of them didn’t hold near as much importance as the intent of the writer. One old surveyor in our town wrote deed description with C&Ds we could count on to be wrong. What he did describe were natural items like stone walls, creeks, or trees, all important evidence of intent of the seller.

    I’ve learned to go back behind most written words and research original documents to determine intent. That way I know how to proceed.

    Great example of down on the farm reporting, sir.

    1. Great example Mr. Warren. Yessir; deep study is often required to find the true intent and meaning behind words and phrases, including God’s word. I’m so grateful for the Holy Spirit who leads us to discover more about God’s inspired word with each reading. Thank you sir.

  3. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus” – Focus. Lean into. Eyes never wandering. Mind firmly set. He is our Way Maker, our Waypoint.

  4. This reminds me of Isaiah 50:7 where it says “I have set my face like flint”. It gives me the picture of of setting my face in one direction, not moving. Thank you for this encouragement.

  5. J.D., so good. This post brought to mind Jeremiah 6:18 – “This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls” (NLT)

    1. You are most welcome Ms. Ann. It seems God is impressing upon me even more the importance of getting His messages out to the world. Can only speak for myself, but I feel a distinct sense of anticipation welling up inside me with each passing day.

    1. Oh, how I love it when God can use something He inspired me to write about to help someone grow a little more in Him. You just made my day sweet friend. When we plow or plant crooked rows, a couple of different problems occur. One, it makes cultivating to control weeds, etc. almost impossible by machinery without damaging the crop. Two, the harvest is almost always less because proper spacing, etc. is not maintained to allow proper growth.

  6. I’m sorry I have not been on your blog for a while, I missed your wonderful lessons! I didn’t know about the story of Cortés’ conquest of Mexico and the burning of his ships. I heard a song by the Christian group For King and COuntry called “Burn the Ships.” I had no idea what that meant. Thank you for that piece of understanding and for the reminder of our true goal!

    1. No apology is needed Ms. Stephanie. My goodness, I’ve been praising God each morning in my prayers for you and other writing friends that God has you so busy doing kingdom work that you’ve been unable to read and comment. ‘Tis a far better thing you do my friend. 🙂

  7. Such great advice here, as always J.D.
    This reminds me of my high school days in physical education class. My favorite thing was trampoline. In order to jump high, do flips and twists, one must stay steady. In order to stay steady one must have a focal point to focus on while jumping. If one does not keep eyes on the focal point there’s great risk of injury and inability to accomplish much.
    Same principle as your lesson. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, our safe place. And through Him we can accomplish more for His Kingdom.

    1. I can almost see the determined look and laser-like focus as you twist and turn high above Ms. Connie. We need that same courage when we attempt to stay focused on serving God ma’am. Well done!

    1. Aha! I was wondering who was going to ask that question first. As the wheat plant emerges from the ground (after the seed has germinated), it consists of a single, main stem. As the root system matures and grows, the plant absorbs more energy from the nutrients in the soil. This promotes more growth; so after the main stem reaches about three inches in height, additional primary tillers (leaves) begin to sprout along the main stem. This growth stage continues until the boot stage begins, which is indicated by the plant’s bud (the flowering head where the fruit/grain is produced) travels upward inside the plant’s main stem. Once it emerges, the plant switches from expending the majority of its nutrients into the tillers (blades) and transitions it into growing the grain. Hope this answers your question ma’am. The Feeke’s scale does a much better job of explaining the various growth stages of wheat than I did here. God’s blessings; and thanks for the question.

  8. I love how much encouragement you provide me in your message. They make my day. Thanks for your faithfulness.

    I also love that song and remember singing often in my younger days and on mission trips. Great message and I turn my eyes to Jesus as I walk the path He had given me.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Yvonne. While I enjoy a lot of today’s more contemporary worship music (Jessica King is one of my favorites these days), there is a lot of great memories associated with what I call “the classics” from long ago. A nation of great faith was built upon them ma’am. God’s blessings.

  9. Your example of looking at man rather than Jesus reminded me of Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?” Thanks for being a vessel God is using in many people’s lives. Blessings in Christ to you and Diane!

    1. It’s a question I have had to ask myself more than once my friend. I’m ever-grateful that I find myself asking it much less these days, but it’s a great one to always consider before we make decisions or engage in something. Thank you so much for adding to our conversation ma’am.

    1. I join with you in your “Amen” Ms. Melissa. While I’ve come to understand that I can never fully reach God’s ultimate goal for my life (glorification and eternity in His presence), I am responsible for moving a little closer to it with each day of my life. Like you, I’ll keep attempting my best to live our the Apostle Paul’s exhortations.

  10. I’m a little late getting here this week, J.D., but as always glad to find another practical application of eternal truth. We suburban dwellers don’t do much plowing and the heaviest equipment we handle is a lawn mower, but we don’t need to be running a tractor to see the points you made clearly. Like you, I lost my waypoints for a while and left twisted and confusing row behind me. Thank God for the painful awareness that led to the adjustments He graciously made. I love the way that you pointed out that small, even reasonable, distractions can mislead us if we don’t keep coming back to the waypoint that keeps us on track. Thanks again, my friend, for plowing fields and sowing seeds that will yield crops that will endure forever.

    1. Always humbled yet encouraged by your gracious words Mr. Ron. And thank you again for your willingness to sit in for me in December on PJNET TV. I want to encourage all my friends to tune in and catch this gentleman on http://www.pjnet.tv on Thursday’s at 9:30pm Eastern. You will surely be blessed by this godly man with a true servant’s heart.

  11. JD, did you know you can get more seeds in a meandering row than a straight one? 😉
    I purposely tilled up wavy lines in my pollinator patch so it looks like the stripes on the US flag from an aerial view. (Someday I’ll send you a photo).
    However, we must travel the straight and narrow pathway that leads heavenward. Jesus marked it for us and the Bible is our gps.
    Thanks for always bring us a great message from around the Cross-Dubya!

    1. Agreed Mr. Ben. When you drill wheat or plant corn, the drills or planters are configured to drop a seed at specific intervals; so if you are travelling a longer distance in a meandering row, you’ll plant more seed per row. Here in Texas though, the old farmers will attempt to “row it up” (sight down your field) and turn to you and ask “How drunk was ya when y’all planted this field?” or “So the phone call lasted that long did it?” LOL 🙂 All to politely tell you “Thank ain’t right!” It’s sort of how a farmer says “Bless your heart.” 😀 When I plant for pasture like I did my west acreage this winter, I simply used a broadcast spreader. If bedding cotton or planting milo, I’d shoot for that great field of row after row of straight and narrow rows. That way I’d hear, “Y’all got a pretty good stand of wheat (or whatever) there.” Sort of like how we all want to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I bet that (your pollinator field) must be something to see indeed when it’s all in bloom Mr Ben. Would love to see that aerial photo when you get a chance. Perhaps you can post to Facebook so we can share with all our friends. Thank you so much for commenting sir; and let us endeavor to stay on that straight and narrow path. God’s blessings my friend.

  12. Growing up on our farm, I didn’t do much of the tractor work. My father had gender specific chores. But later, with my brother and Farmer Bob, I worked more on tractors. No one taught me about the waypoint, but I figured it out on my own. Your use of “waypoint” in your message today, brings a whole new meaning to this concept. What a wonderful lesson you have shared! Your wisdom and supporting scripture bring this point home. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, our waypoint, brings us to eternity with Him, our home.

    1. How very kind. Thank you Ms. Katherine. I understand about the gender-specific chores. My adopted dad, while not a farmer, was much the same way when Mom would come in and help out at the service station. Do the books, pick up and deliver customers, do the banking, maybe pump gas sometimes, but never ever get underneath the hood of a car or under one on a hydraulic lift. Of course, I’ve come to know a few ladies who were better mechanics than some men I know. LOL Am glad you enjoyed the analogy of the “Waypoint” my friend. Our Savior certainly is that for is isn’t He? 🙂

  13. Thank you for bringing another lesson from the field. I love how God’s themes are planted throughout the scriptures. Each part of the Bible reinforces the others. Your post shared from Gospels, Epistles, Prophets, and History sections. Most (if not all) of the themes germinated in the Torah.
    Like: Deuteronomy 5:32 KJV — Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
    I figure if you see it repeated in several sections, we better pay close attention.

    1. Amen Ms. Dottie. It was difficult selected which of the seemingly hundreds of verses that speak to this lesson of exhortation to use. And I agree also, that God’s encouraging words are found all throughout the Bible, much as His love is also. God’s blessings ma’am.

  14. I’m so thankful with you, J.D., that your wheat is growing well. Praise God! And thank you for your lessons from plowing a straight line–to fix our eyes on Jesus and not look back. We are often tempted in this way, so I really appreciate your insights today from the Cross Dubya!

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. I’m thrilled that you appreciated the message ma’am; and so grateful for all your comments, support, and encouragement. God’s blessings my ultra-creative friend.

  15. Beautiful and powerful imagery once again, J.D. You’re a great craftsman of words. Loved this piece. I pray to follow Jesus as my waypoint, not get off course too often, and never, ever turn back.

    1. And you are so very kind and encouraging Ms. Karen. Thank you so much for the kind words ma’am. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post ma’am; as I do the great ones you publish each Friday.

  16. Amen, brother J.D.! I especially shout agreement with your final thoughts: “While uncertainty reigns supreme in this world, remember that as Christians, this is not our world. Our end game is spending eternity with God. Let us focus on that goal.” Yes, may we keep our focus on Jesus going forward. No looking back! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Karen. I’m glad those words resonated with many my friend. I find I’m having to remind myself of this truth more and more these days. God’s blessings; and Happy Thanksgiving sweet lady. Ms. Diane and I hope you can find time for a visit this year, or next spring, before it gets too cold or too hot to be comfortable. Which means here in Texas, there’s about two weeks that might work. 😀

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