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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: My Faith and My Job

Looking Back

Friday March 26 2021

Looking Back: My Faith and My Job


Published in 1965, a reflection from an Inverness-shire hill farmer


J.D. MICHAEL - in a "Lift up your Hearts" broadcast last October.

TEN minutes to eight. I open the back door. My two sheep dogs – Patch and Culag – rush out past me. Margaret, my wife, is putting two steaming plates of porridge on the kitchen table behind me and wooden bowls of Jersey milk. Jacky, who works the farm with me, is coming round the corner of the dairy to get the cows milked, before taking his small son Iain to catch the school bus.

Below me lies a stubble field and a party of Blackface wedder lambs is grazing on the new grass. Just a month ago we were cutting corn in this field and as the binder finished I saw two brown bodies in the stubble. Fearing that they had been injured, I went over and they allowed me to pick them up. Two soft brown baby hares. They were unhurt and they hopped off slowly when I put them down.

The dogs, kept in the house while the binder was working, were let out at this moment. If they had scented the hares, both would have been killed at once. But the dogs rushed up to me – there was no scent. I could see the two little hares leaving the field in safety.

God’s promise

I lift my eyes beyond the field – a glorious view up Glenurquhart to the Glen Affric hills and the hills of Kintail. There is a shower in the west and a rainbow arches right across the glen as the sun hits it. God’s promise – rainbow.

The knowledge of God’s presence makes today’s work, which seemed so impossible when I first woke up and remembered all that I had to do, now seem possible. My faith and my job. My job is all faith. I plough the ground, I sow the seed, I harrow it, I roll it and then shut up the field and forget about it.

The brown earth turns a brilliant green, then darker, then shot with yellow, then golden to harvest. How, I don’t know. But God does.

A miracle?-yes, but not the only miracle on the farm.

Human hunger

“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” “For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear”. Jesus said that and He knew.

What a difference meeting Him makes to life. His Church – all the glorious people one meets and gets to know, through doing His work. He said, “This is my body, which is given for you”. “Corn”. “Bread”. “His Body”.

Here we live in plenty – and in India they are desperately hungry. John McLeod, a missionary from this glen, digs wells in Jalna, in Western India. In one year he has doubled the food supply and the living in a village. Water and good seed, the water of life.

But what John does cannot relieve me of responsibility. How to transfer my surplus to those who are hungry? I don’t know. But God does.

God… neighbour

Back to the stubble. How did the harvest come in? Jacky had hurt his leg and could not stack. For three precious days a neighbour, Jimmy, came up with his tractor, and Robert, a brother elder, soon to be a minister, came and stacked; and Donald cut the corn. The schoolmaster and the minister came up to help hoe the turnips.

Two things essential to any harvest anywhere – God and one’s neighbour.

Jesus said there are two great commandments: love God – love your neighbour. He knew, and how obvious it is on this job.

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