When You Want a Great Life Plan
The day after Resurrection Sunday, day after the world stopped because God had risen up and walked out of the earth —
his father came and sat at the table, and we hadn’t seen him in four months.
We served the last of the lamb and the first of that spinach.
And the Farmer sat at the table with his dad and they sit at the table and talk dirt and wheat and land and horsepower.
Opa Voskamp remembered how they never went out to the barn and the cows in the morning dark until they’d all kneeled as a family at the door and first prayed.
Who can expect to make sense of a loud world when they haven’t made quiet space before God?
Life is only noise until you’ve been quiet before God.
When one consistently chooses cyberspace over holy space — life becomes a hollow place.
I tell Hope to get berries to pour over the brownies.
We listen to two farmers at a table, a man and his son.
After dinner, the Farmer and his father walk out across the farmyard, through the shed, look at the tractors, stand at the edge of the field.
I watch how their hands move when they talk, like trees moving in wind, like when the Spirit moves and there is no standing still.
Opa’s older hands, the gnarled ones, arthritic and scarred, they touch the son’s shoulder now and then.
Those hands have come across an ocean of waves with a bride dated only three weeks, have milked cows by hands and picked rocks off fields by the bucket and held six sons and three daughters and a Bible after every meal for more than seventy years.
When he talks, his gesturing hands, they have no Dutch accent.
When he plowed, his hands folded over the wheel like in prayer. It’s true, anyone in workboots or an apron can be a hymn.
The Farmer, the younger one, his hands respond to his father’s, gestures of his own, and it’s like the passing of a torch.
In the morning, when the father is long gone, when the father has been hugged and kissed and has driven on to the next son with his farm and his son and fields to the north, the Farmer and I lay in the dark not yet day-broken and talk of four sons and two daughters and grief.
“It’s hard to think the window’s closed, that the boat’s left and it’s too late already.” That’s what he says before the day has even begun.
I close my eyes in the dark, like I can shut it all out, shut out the way the economy has barred us all out, how, now with the rising prices, it’s too late now to think of any of our kids finding a field of their own.
“Investors. Foreign, urban, they’ll own the land. And us here in workboots, we’ll be tenants, working the fields and growing food for owners far away.” His voice is so quiet in a house sleeping with all these kids and hopes.
I turn towards him.
“How could part of me think they’d go get degrees and not always have a bit of earth under their fingernails? What part of me ever stopped hoping they’d be brothers working the earth together?” I lay my hand on his cheek. “I think I just wanted them to be like you.”
Him like his father before him, like my father before me, like the way the wind blows and the Spirit moves and the bending over a row and praying for rain, bending to pray before you ever begin.
He takes my hand in his.
I can feel what we’ve weathered.
Will any of the kids ever know this?
“Should we move, try somewhere else?” I know my voice is pitched too high. Caleb will be 17 this year. How did we get here already? Is it ever possible to pray enough?
“Did we do this all wrong? Did we fail? Should we have been more focused in how to make a way for the kids? ”
And he turns to me, his grit grooved hands covenanted and holding mine.
“The only thing worth ever being focused on — is walking in the ways of the Lord.” The light’s moving up the window.
The whole room is lighting.
The Farmer says it about his sons and his daughters, about us:
“Whether you have much or little, the truth will just tell you plain: the only wealth you’ll ever have is God.”
Do any of us need more than that?
“The things is… When we think about what we want to leave for our children — Less is more.”
I nod slow.
Less goods can let there be more God.
Whenever you think you need more of this world, you lay out a welcome mat for the enemy.
When it comes to our legacy, to our lives, to our longings — less is always more.
We get out of bed and do what comes first.
We bow our heads.
And the emptiness of surrendered hands can fill with God.
A gift given to our family reminding us Who our treasure is: “Redeemed” wooden letters on our mantle