Gardening

“Buy Dirt”—this is the name of a song written by Jordan Davis and sung by Luke Bryan. It is the counsel given by an old man to a young fella who admits he’s chasing the dollar and climbing ladders. Talking about life, he makes this statement: “The truth about it is, it all goes by real quick. You can’t buy happiness … but you can buy dirt.”

This is the heart of every homesteader. For me the dream is a few acres, a box with an assortment of seeds, some chickens and rabbits, a few pigs and some woods out back to hike and hunt. A small cabin, a woodstove, a stack of firewood and the larder filled with delicious, healthy food in the dead of winter—now that’s what I’m talking about.

But homesteading is not a place. Let me explain.

Matthew 22:36-40 says, “‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (ESV).

Along with the Ten Commandments and the moral, civil and ceremonial laws, the Jews were also navigating a slew of other laws that Jesus confronts later, the burdens placed by the Scribes and Pharisees upon the people that gave no relief to them. Who can blame them for asking? Jesus beautifully collects all of the law under two headings: Love God. Love your neighbor. We would do well to prayerfully consider both.

Love God

What is the chief end of man? The answer: Glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Stop and consider that. How have you actively glorified God today? How have you loved God in word and in deed?

I wonder if we are so caught up in the consumeristic corruption of this world that we unwittingly do the opposite. Paul really confronts this in his first letter to the Corinthians: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV).

Do we fully understand the process of the systems in place that bring food to our tables? In his book, “The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs,” permaculture farmer Joel Salatin makes the point: “A culture that views its pigs as just mechanical objects to be programmed and manipulated will view its citizens the same way, and ultimately God the same way. A deity to be manipulated and formed into something of our liking. God becomes either nonexistent or a doting grandpa, dispensing goodies to whoever has the most clever sales pitch.”

Ouch!

Is God glorified by systems that provide food through artificial inputs, chemicals, genetic modifications and methods that treat animals and plants as part of a greater machine rather than the glorious presentation of a magnificent creator? Are we stewarding God’s creation well or simply forcing it to bow down to our will, with high outputs and high profits and high fructose corn syrup being the measure of our stewardship of creation?

I will keep it simple. Read the label. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Do you know what is on the ingredient list of a bag of carrots from a farmer’s market? Carrots. That’ll work.

Love others

This morning I read how a friend of mine who operates a market farm homestead nearby was in a real jam yesterday. This is his description: “Our newest cow got sideways and belly deep in our muddy creek bed. She was completely stuck and in danger of giving up and dying if we didn’t get her out quick. After I tried for an hour or so with a measly rope and shovel, reinforcements (neighbors) came with straps, knowledge, experience and four-wheel-drive vehicles.”

Kindness, helpfulness and generosity, the marks of every believer, are exhibited in the simple act of loving your neighbor. Jesus made it clear: when we feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty, when we serve and give and love, expressing hospitality to our neighbors, to other believers, even to our enemies, we demonstrate the Gospel.

If you are starting a homestead, grow enough for your family and for others. Grow food. Cook food. Share food. Break bread with others with glad and generous hearts.

Homesteading is not a place. Homesteading is a way of living. Whether you are in a rural community, the suburbs or the city, you can join in the movement of living and eating and being as God has ordained.

Love God. Love others. Live well. Eat well. To God be the Glory!