Friday, May 6, 2016
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While I was growing up in an apartment in Chicago, my wife was growing up in a very different world. She grew up on a small dairy farm. It was her Mom and Dad, and two "sons". Actually, the sons turned out to be daughters. So, those girls had to be the sons who helped their Dad on his meager little farm. My wife says she'll never forget the day the county farm agent came for a visit. He walked around with Dad, inspected his crops, looked at his books, and started lecturing Dad on all the things he could do better – all of which would take money and help that they could never afford.
Unbeknownst to Dad or the farm agent, my wife (then a little girl) was in the kitchen washing dishes, listening to this lopsided conversation out the window. Now, her Dad listened patiently until the agent stopped and then he said, "Are you finished?" The man said he was. Then Dad said something that his daughter would never forget. "Mr. Pendleton, you haven't seen all my crops. You haven't seen my most important crop--my daughters!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Your Most Important Crop."
My father-in-law had his values straight – and I will be forever grateful to him for that. Those two daughters, his most important crops, grew up to be strong, competent, Jesus-loving, Jesus-serving women. And I got to marry one of them!
Maybe it's time to remind yourself of what your most important crop is. Our word for today from the Word of God comes in the middle of a passage about a time when things were going to be totally up for grabs. In Isaiah 8:18, we read this values-clarifying statement, "Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me." See, whatever happens to our culture, whatever happens to our economy, whatever rises, whatever falls, what really matters is these children God has given me.
I can't read these words without thinking about a powerful little poem I once saw on a grandmother's wall. "It is my greatest desire that on that Resurrection Day, I may stand before my Savior and say, 'Here am I – and the children You gave me.'" Again, a reminder of what is the most important crop you have. It's not your business, it's not your bank account, it's not even your ministry, it's not your titles or your awards – it's the children God gave you to love and to shape.
In a pressure cooker world like ours, I know there must be a dozen things screaming for the best of your time, the best of your attention. And it's hard to get an "A" in everything. You have to decide where you're going to settle for a "C". You might even have to drop something so you can get an "A" where it really matters. Where it's hardest to get an "A" and where an "A" is the most worth it – at home. You can be a hero at work, a hero in the community, a hero at church – and a zero at home. And that's the one place where you're irreplaceable.
When my friend George was offered a significant promotion – if he would move – he turned it down, much to the company's amazement. Why? Because he knew what that move would do to this family, and he said they come first. Be sure your priorities are in the right place. Arrange your other priorities around being what that son or daughter needs. Remove the weeds in your relationship with them. Then water that relationship with lots of praise, lots of time, and lots of attention.
Your children are, in God's words, and this is in Psalm 127, "a heritage from the Lord...a reward from Him" (Verse 3). More than any other crop in your life, they will be the measure of how well you have lived. Your children really are your most important crop.