There’s a lesson in faith that can be learned by plowing a field. For those that didn’t live a rural life let me explain. A plow turns the soil over to make it easier to work and folds the remaining organic matter into the ground. As the plow moves ahead, it leaves behind a shallow trench called a furrow. The goal is to keep the furrow as straight as possible. It’s not as easy at it sounds.
One day a grandpa farmer explained the basic of plowing to a grandson. He then pointed to a tractor and plow and said, “get to it.” The young man knew the first furrow was key to plowing straight. He focused on an object in the distance, opened the throttle, and dropped the plow. He dutifully kept the hood ornament of the tractor aimed at his distant object. Reaching the end of the field, he turned around, dropped a wheel in the furrow, lowered the plow and took off again. (real plowboys: just go with it for the sake of the story.) When the young man got back to his starting place he saw Grandpa frantically waving him down.
The young man ran over as grandpa said, “best look at your handiwork.” The young man looked but didn’t understand. He kept his eyes focused on something in the distance, but his furrow drifted to the right. “I don’t get it, what did I do wrong?” The young man asked. Grandpa looked down, shuffled his feet trying to suppress a grin. “Well, let me give you a little advice. Next time you pick something to focus on don’t use one of the neighbor’s cows.”
When considering faith there are many things that folks focus on, but there’s only one that’s right. Some folks focus on faith itself. Others focus on a pattern or the words of a teacher or the doctrines of a church. A few focus on their experiences as a guideline. Some search the scriptures for that magic formula of words and deeds that will release God’s power. A few focus like a plowboy on the one unmovable point, Jesus.
The writer of Hebrews said, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a, NASB95) Paul, explaining why he doesn’t come across large, wrote, “so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:5, NASB95) Where we focus our faith matters. If we focus on results we’ll end up going in one big circle. If we focus on faith itself we’ll stagnate and just dig a big hole. But if we focus our faith on Jesus our furrows will be in exactly the right place at the right time.
My Grandpa Ray was a distinguished plowboy and farmer. His favorite verse was “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NASB95) From one plowboy to another and now to you. What you focus your faith and energy on matters. Trust Jesus for the direction and the Holy Spirit for power, drop your plow into the field God has for you, and let out the clutch. That is a focused faith.