Each summer I volunteer some of my time at a local farm, pulling weeds, harvesting vegetables, mulching, filling CSA bags with goodies, whatever needs to be done. And if you’ve spent any time on a farm, you know that there is ALWAYS work to do.
My daughter had heard about this non-profit farm and years ago we visited it to see how we could help, over the years I keep returning. It requires a beautiful drive in the country to get there, and while I’m enjoying the scenery, I usually pray that God will use me at the garden, placing me with someone who needs a listening ear or encouragement, and He never fails to answer. I’ve had some wonderful conversations while working alongside interns, other volunteers and the farm family over the years.
Last week I drove out to the farm on a beautiful day, praying en route that I could be used to minister to whomever needed it most that day. I arrived and heard voices in a remote area of the farm, I followed the voices to find one intern (there are usually several) weeding a large area with a group of mentally challenged adults and a man who led the group. I quickly jumped in and began cleaning out the area alongside, making conversation as we worked. I was delighted to meet this group of young people who were willing to do hard work, and the intern kept complimenting and encouraging them. Before long, the group announced they were leaving the farm as their time was up, and the Intern said she had plenty to do elsewhere, would I be willing to continue weeding the area I had been working? Of course.
I started the lone task and before long became bored and hot. I kept looking around for someone to come and join me but there was no one to be found. This is unheard of, usually there are people all over, looking for ways to help each other. I found myself talking out loud to God: Lord, I feel like I’m missing something, I come here to help and I asked you to provide someone who needed ministering and I’m out here alon…….oh. Suddenly I realized I was out in His creation, with no phone or distractions, open and available to hear from Him about how best to help someone. I was the one who needed it most that day.
For the next hour, I opened my heart to hear about the places that God wanted to work in me, about the sins I needed to confess and the weak areas that needed to be strengthened. I have often said that I feel closest to God when my hands are in the dirt, and this day was a gift just for me, as I pulled the weeds and dead layers from around leeks, onions and chard, God was doing the same in me. After all that was removed, it looked like not much was left, but what remained was strong and healthy, much like my own heart. I walked away from the area when my work was complete, never seeing another person at the farm that day.
As I was driving home, I thought about my part in this; I was open and available, without distractions, doing work and asking God to show up. These are all things I should be doing regularly, because God is always willing to do His part. What seemed wrong and out of the norm was exactly what I needed that day. God has surprised me so many times in my life by allowing me to be used by Him in ministering to others in creative ways, and He did all over again. Just for me.
If you’re interested in a local non-profit farm or looking for a place to volunteer, I can certainly vouch for this this one: http://www.keipos.org/