When we moved to the farm, the land we purchased was pretty raw. It did not look like it does today. There were briars, cactus, high weeds, scrub trees, burn piles from years ago, and downed barbed wire fencing. The trees were unshaped and in need of pruning. It seemed like an insurmountable task to improve the appearance of the property; but little by little we worked at it. All we had at first was a hand pushed heavy-duty 18 inch brush hog mower, a weed eater, loppers, a band saw and a small trailer which provided a place of rest from time to time. Eventually, we made the decision to buy a tractor with a front end loader and a six foot brush hog for mowing. It has served me faithfully, and it is about this tractor I wish to make several observations in this lesson from the farm.

My tractor allows me to do far more than I could ever do by myself. I can move a 1500 lb. hay bale, plow a field, mow a pasture, dig a ditch, level a road, haul dirt around, plus scores of other useful tasks. This reminds believers of a great spiritual lesson taught by Jesus himself. He said, “If a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John. 15:5). The branch does not produce fruit by its own self-effort, but by drawing on life from the vine. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Another translation renders it, “I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” It is Christ who gives me the strength and power to live the Christian life. You have the needed power within to be adequate for the demands of life, and it is released by faith. All of this would be in vain if Jesus were only a mere man. My tractor does no good with the motor off sitting in the barn. It is only when it is running that I can do the above mentioned tasks. It is only because Jesus is the living Christ, the Son of God, that I can be assured that He can supply my every need. He is my source of power and strength. He is the God-Man, the “one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

One of the main uses I have for my tractor is that of mowing. I mow my own fields, my neighbors’ pastures and our church property. I’m the guy with the tractor, so I’m the guy that mows. Ever since I began using the tractor, I have had a new appreciation for the truth of Jesus’ word, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). When I first started mowing with the tractor, I was careful to look behind to make sure that I was getting all of the grass. However, when I completed the row, I noticed that it was very crooked and I didn’t seem to be thrashing everything I needed to cut. It wasn’t long before I learned that I needed to look ahead, not behind, to mow straight rows. Looking behind regularly only impeded the progress of mowing the field. When I fixed my eyes upon some distant tree or fence post that was directly ahead, I was able to successfully mow the pasture. Then when I looked back for a quick glance, I discovered the row was straight. Even though Jesus was talking about plowing in the verse above, I think the idea of mowing with my tractor can be understood and applied in the same manner.

First, I have noticed that many who “plow” in the service of the Lord tend only to look back, and because of that they are afraid to go forward. They look back to “the good old days” whatever that means. They recall the days when Brother So-And-So did this or said that, and therefore that justifies the way it needs to be said and done today. One church in my town advertises in the local newspaper that they sing only the “old songs” in worship – none of those new ones. I believe there are good old songs and bad old songs; and there are also good new songs and bad ones. Others look back and continue to perpetuate outdated practices which now discourage growth. Many folks look back to past mistakes and focus there, even knowing that the believer is assured that God has forgiven and forgotten those sins because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. Satan, the father of all lies, wants us to keep looking backwards knowing that when we do, we cannot look forward. The armor of God is given to face forward in our spiritual battle, and not for retreat. To continually look behind will keep the field from being plowed correctly. Jesus said that attitude makes one unfit for service in God’s kingdom.

Second, since looking backward is discouraged by our Lord, the only direction to look is forward. Paul said, “One thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil.3:13-14). To “forget” here does not mean to fail to remember. Apart from a brain malfunction no person can totally forget what has occurred in the past. Sometimes we wish we could, but we cannot erase these things. “To forget” in this passage means “no longer influenced by or affected by.” For example, when God says He will remember our sins no more, He means that our sins will no longer affect our standing with Him or influence His attitude toward us. When Paul says to forget the past, he means that we are to break the powerful grip of the past by looking to the future. Paul could have let his past weigh him down, but instead he changed his focus to the future.

A third point is related. When I am mowing, I look to the horizon and focus on a fixed point as I mow. Paul said there was a goal out there worthy of our focus. It was a prize for which God is calling us heavenward in Christ Jesus. The writer of the Hebrew letter said, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb.12:2). Even though we examine our lives and look at where we have been, as long as our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we find that we are on course toward the prize that Christ has for us. When my wife’s cousin passed away several years ago, his son spoke at the funeral and said, “Dad walked a long time in the same direction.” He meant that he had fixed his eyes on Jesus all his life, and as a result, his walk was heavenward and straight. That is the joy of serving the Lord, knowing that He will guide us every step of our Christian walk and He will “keep our rows” straight while we “mow” – even to that point in time when we “reach the end of the row.” And then we know as believers in Christ, whether called home before He returns or when He returns, we shall see Jesus face to face (1 Cor. 13:12). One day Jesus will return, and “we know that when he appears, we will be like Him, because we shall see Him as he is” (1 Jn. 3:2). How are you plowing these days?

Face to face I shall behold Him, far beyond the starry sky;

Face to face in all His glory, I shall see him by and by.