Straight Lines

When I was a child my family and I lived across the road from a corn/maze/cotton field. Each and every year I would watch as the tractors moved through the fields, the crop dusters fly over, and the combines pick up the crops. It was fascinating to watch as a child. But nothing made me wonder more than driving by the field and seeing row after row straight as an arrow. How and why did they do that? I wonder, have you ever driven by a corn or maze field and looked down the plant rows and wondered how in the world did they get all of those rows so straight?

It is truly amazing when driving through the farm lands of the coastal plains and seeing row after row of straight corn, cotton, maze and soy. It is often times mind boggling to think about the sheer discipline of lining up a tractor again and again hour after hour to get those rows so straight across hundreds of acres. Well, its mind boggling until you find out that those tractors are being directly steered by a GPS system that have been pre-programmed with a specific plan for that field. That is how modern farmers do it, but that wasn’t how it was done when I was a kid.

Most crops require constant and ongoing cultivation (stirring the soil to kill the weeds and to help aerate). Straight rows make cultivation simpler so farmers spend a lot of time prepping the fields and marking them out before planting. On small farms before GPS, farmers would draw lines across the field lengthwise and crosswise constructing a checkerboard pattern. Seed was planted where the lines crossed. This system allowed for the most efficient distance between plants for growth, cultivation, and ultimately the harvest. However, on a large farm, a farmer would “plow with his eye on the fence post.” Without looking back a farmer would align a reference point on his tractor with an object on the opposite side of the field and keep a laser focus on that object as he plowed forward. This careful focus on direction at the beginning would ensure the rows would be straight, the cultivation would be easier, and the harvest would be at its maximum.

In Philippians 3:13-14 the apostle Paul says that he looks forward toward the Goal, toward the heavenly call of God in Christ. It is in this that he references every action and it guides him across the field. As Christian’s plowing through life we all need a reference point to keep us headed in the right direction. When looking across the field of life what is your reference point? What is it that helps you keep the row straight?


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An Honest Holiday Season - Mark Kennell

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