Do you feel like a slave?
Do you ever feel like a slave?
A slave to the farm?
A slave to your kids’ activities?
A slave to your home?
I started asking myself these questions after two completely different Bible studies that I’m working through brought up the connection between slavery and taking a day of rest!
The nation of Israel were slaves in Egypt for 400 years! That’s a heck of a long time. That’s a heck of a long time to reinforce and develop the mind of a slave versus the mind of a free man or woman. A slave only has one job. To work and work hard. There is no rest.
So when God led them out of Egypt to freedom, one of the first things He did was give them the 10 commandments. If you’re like me, you have looked at the 10 commandments as primarily laws to obey. Do this! Don’t do that! They are laws to obey, but there is more to them. God had good in mind for His people!
Consider this! After being enslaved for 400 years with work and no rest being the way you lived, that’s pretty well the only way you’ve come to know life. So when God freed His people it was important to Him that they recognize their freedom and live as freemen and women, not as slaves. So He gave them the guideline that they should take a day of rest.
Now as New Testament believers, living after Jesus died and released us from the Old Testament law and commandments, God desires for us to continue to live in freedom, not as slaves!
Galatians 5:1 says “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Are you living free? Or are there things to which you still feel enslaved?
I don’t know about you but it has taken me several years to learn, and I continue to learn, that I can say “no” to things in our life. That I don’t have to be enslaved to doing all the things. Quality is better than quantity. It doesn’t matter what other people think or do. The activities that I see others adding to their lives, doesn’t necessarily mean that those same activities or number of activities will be good or “freeing” for me and my family! I don’t have to live as a slave to somebody else’s opinion or life. I don’t have to live as a slave to the “But I should be doing x, y, z“ thoughts in my head that are heaping guilt and shame. I don’t have to live as a slave to “doing”, to being busy!
What about the farm? Are we slaves to the farm?
(A side note...when I talk about “the farm”, I’m including farms and ranches!)
In many ways we do live as slaves to the farm. Now I’m not saying that to make it sound awful or garner sympathy or anything like that. Yet, we all know that the farm takes up a lot of brain power, and concern, and hope, and worry, and joy, and physical energy, and time, throughout our day-to-day lives.
Could that brain space, time and energy be utilized in an even more positive way, if we just took some of it back from the farm?
I have grown to really dislike the statement “the farm comes first“, because I feel like it enables the mentality that everything else has to take a backseat to the farm, no matter what.
God does not take a backseat to the farm!
Our children do not take a backseat to the farm!
Our mental health does not take a backseat to the farm!
Getting away for a physical and mental break, so that we can make sound decisions for ourselves, our family and the farm, should not take a backseat to the farm!
OK now I’m on my soapbox. I’ll step down, but if it’s possible that the farm is consuming us enough that it’s somewhat enslaving us, that’s a problem!
Could this be part of what leads farmers to depression and potentially suicide when things go south with the farm?
Are we living in freedom while farming? Obviously God has called us to farm. He’s placed us in the position to farm. I have no doubt about that considering the current climate of Agriculture. We’re here and still here, because He’s making a way.
Even with farming being our God-given purpose, can we still be living enslaved to it? I think the answer is yes.
So how do you live not enslaved to the farm? Here’s some things to think about...
Ensure that your main focus is on God. If our focus is truly where it should be...on God, everything else will fall into place.
Are there times throughout each week, month and year where you truly have a mental and physical break from the farm? The to-do list is long on farms. The next project is always looming. I’m not saying to slack off. Farming is hard work. Yet, we make better decisions, we use our energy more wisely, when we can step away, reevaluate and take care of ourselves as a whole.
Does family come first? Do we truly want to pass on the farm? If we are being honest, are we truly doing what we need to, to cultivate relationships with our kids so that they’ll want to come back to the farm? Choose what activity or task is going to have the most important outcome. The farm will be there tomorrow, but your kids may not be. They’re growing so fast.
Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel the pressure to perform, to be involved, to give your kids every opportunity? Truth be told, our kids don’t need to be in any activities to have a good life. So pick the ones that really matter and let the others go!
Do you feel guilty or worry about what others think when you say “no” to something? Nobody should have the authority to place guilt on us if we are not involved in all the “good things”. Nor should we feel like we have to take on that guilt. So get right with God, assess your involvement and lose the guilt!