Scouring the Hills

I grew up on a beautiful farm, which meant (1) there were always adventures to be had and (2) there was always work to be done.

Despite living in central Illinois, where you can usually look across the plains and see for miles, we could walk about a mile and reach fantastic sledding hills in the winter. The hills overlooked the creek bottom, and the hike to sled was worth the effort. After hiking back up the hills after the sled runs, we began to wonder if our legs would carry us back home before our fingers and toes froze. But the promise of Mom’s homemade hot chocolate was all the motivation we needed to return.

The hills took on a different context in the summer, especially the year we cleared the north hills. The bulldozers came in to knock down every size of tree and pull up root systems. We’d check on the process when they weren’t working, and I was amazed to stand beside many tree trunks large enough for me to walk through with barely a stoop if they had been hollowed. It was quite a process of transformation to watch. The hills of scattered trees I had known became almost unrecognizably bare. I noticed details I had never seen before. And it wasn’t long before I knew those hills more intimately than I ever thought I could.

After the large machinery was done, it was our turn to scour the hills. Since farm machinery would be working the hills, planting and harvesting beans and wheat in the coming years, we had to pick up what the large equipment couldn’t get and the farm machinery shouldn’t get. So, our trekking began.

We walked back and forth across the width of the hills. We worked as a team (most of the time), picking up rocks and broken pieces of root systems and throwing them onto a trailer. It was dirty, exhausting work. Every now and then, we’d find a treasure – Indian arrowhead or a fossil – and we’d gather around to examine each other’s discoveries. We’d soon go back to the monotonous search for rocks. The land was rough, a result of being pulled apart. We weren’t working on level ground. What looked like stone was often a clump of dirt and when kicking a clump of dirt, we often found stones. Walking on uneven ground was tiresome. Repeatedly bending over and picking up debris was exhausting. The adventure of the process quickly wore off as we returned to the hills day after day.

But the process was necessary in order to prepare the fields for the next thing: crops.

We often are in the process of clearing something of the past in order to prepare for the future. It’s essential we do the work. Sure, we’d rather be enjoying the thrill of sledding or consistently finding treasures. The filth and exhaustion isn’t as much fun as the adventures, but it’s a critical part of the process. We can complain and whine. We can sit and pout. Or, we can get to what needs to be done.

What work is God requiring of you today? What’s your attitude about it?

Be obedient, and let him prepare your life for the next season. His purpose might be beyond your wildest imaginations…and memories.

The farmer is like a person who plants God’s message in people. Sometimes the teaching falls on the road. This is like the people who hear the teaching of God, but Satan quickly comes and takes away the teaching that was planted in them. Others are like the seed planted on rocky ground. They hear the teaching and quickly accept it with joy. But since they don’t allow the teaching to go deep into their lives, they keep it only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching they accepted, they quickly give up. Others are like the seed planted among the thorny weeds. They hear the teaching, but the worries of this life, the temptation of wealth, and many other evil desires keep the teaching from growing and producing fruit in their lives. Others are like the seed planted in the good ground. They hear the teaching and accept it. Then they grow and produce fruit—sometimes thirty times more, sometimes sixty times more, and sometimes a hundred times more. (Mark 4:14-20)

2 thoughts on “Scouring the Hills

  1. Susan, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences about growing up on a farm in central Illinois, I didn’t grow up on a farm but did grow up in a small farming community in central Indiana. I spent a great deal playing on farms with my friends.

    I could relate to your adventures. Please keep writing and sharing your story and His story.


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