By Olivia Clark
Having faith in farming is not always easy. There are times when things become very trying and farmers may question if it is feasible to make it another year. Without their faith, many farmers would not have the confidence that they could make it another year. For that reason alone, faith plays an important role in the lives of farmers, their families and their future.
Gayle Outland and his son, Brad, make up the fourth generation of farmers in their family to raise row crops in Christian and Trigg counties. Outland believes that above anyone else, farmers should have faith in God.
“There is only so much preparing the ground and fertilizer can do, and then it is out of your hands,” Gayle said.
Brad agreed. From start to finish, a farmer only has about 5 to 10 percent control over a crop’s growth, he said.
Gayle instilled church into the lives of his children, as he was brought up, and it is evident that church is still a vital part of their adult lives and their children’s lives as well.
Gayle feels it is up to the head of the farm to instill in their family a work ethic and faith in God. His favorite verse in the Bible is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
He believes that farmers should observe the Sabbath as the day of rest, which is typically Sunday. However, there have been times when the “ox is in the ditch,” as stated in the Bible in Luke 14:5, and they worked on a Sunday. In cases like this, some farmers observe another day of the week as their day of rest.
Although Gayle knows it is important to get his work done, he doesn’t put his work in front of the Lord. He mentioned that every day he sees things God has put before him that he should give God the glory for.
A few miles down the road, a couple of other farmers feel similar to the Outlands about their faith in farming. Larry Bailey and his son, Josh, who are also fourth-generation farmers, raise cattle and horses in Christian County.
Larry’s father, Riley Bailey, had a faith where he led by example for them by never working on Sunday. He operated a small dairy that required him to milk twice a day, but that was the only work you would find him doing on Sundays.
For Larry, Sunday was not taught to be just a day of rest but a day of worship and to give thanks to the Lord. He also mentioned that God requires us to be good stewards of the land. Even in times of drought, he said, the Lord is teaching us to be humble and He’s showing us what He can do.
For Josh, having faith is important because farming is unpredictable. Every year is a different learning experience, he said. Whether it’s a drought or the death of a cow from an unknown disease when cattle prices are high — you overcome that and move on. His favorite verse in the Bible comes from Ecclesiastes 11:6, “In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”
Agriculturalists are involved in one of the most demanding, trying and tiring industries there is. Having faith in God is important to not only to see out the day-to-day tasks but to make it from one year to the next. Faith helps agriculturalists see how rewarding the industry is, teaches farmers to be thankful for the bountiful harvest and their work ethic, and gives them a sense of pride from playing a small part in feeding the world.
As the New Year starts, it is a good time to take a moment to reflect on what God has done in the past year and what role He will play in the future.