Read how Dan likens following Christ to the straight, even rows we often see plowed in fields. If the first line is straight, the rest can follow.
On a particular family vacation in my youth, as we traveled through a verdant rural landscape, I remember looking out the window (that’s what we used to do before electronics) at the recently plowed fields which appeared to be seemingly endless before my gaze. The freshly overturned earth was furrowed into what I perceived as perfectly parallel rows. Line after line were as even as if dug following a straight edge. I recall marveling at the precision, and enjoyed watching as the countless undeviating lines in the earth zoomed past my view. I wondered at how it was possible to make such perfectly straight rows without getting off course.
In a recent post I mentioned the passing of Deanne’s grandfather, Sherman. If ever there was a man of the soil, he was. The farm was never far from his thoughts. Often he would pepper his conversations with stories and metaphors of his agricultural upbringing. During the wonderful tribute that was his funeral, a former religious leader recalled something that Sherman would often tell him. “When you plow a field, make certain your first row is straight. If the first row is straight, then all the following rows are most likely to be as well. The same can be said for plowing the rows of your life, keep the first row straight, and the other rows will follow suit”. I suggest that Sherman was referring to our first row being our discipleship of Jesus Christ.
I have had some time to internalize this idea of keeping my first row straight. I fear to look back at the first row I am making in my life. I am certain that the this row is about as straight as the line on Charlie Brown’s shirt. Time and time again I can recall points of deviation from the straight and narrow course I should have been plotting for myself. I am easily and readily discouraged by the actions and events of my life that put my imperfections under the microscope. Under the magnification of guilt and the amplification of discouragement, the row I am attempting to hoe is anything but straight as Sherman counseled.
On my own, my row was never designed to be straight. In spite of my best efforts and most carefully laid plans, my execution of being able to plow a straight row is something I am completely capable of. Neither do I think that Sherman was implying that I could ever do so under my own strength.
There is only one perfect straight furrow that was ever plowed in mortality. We have often heard of the straight and undeviating path blazed by our Savior. I am here writing this to give you the instructions on how it is that we keep our first row straight. Following Christ, to the best of your imperfect ability, means we find ourselves in the straightest furrow. “In all things acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:6.
If we press forward with steadfastness, continually adjusting our course, continually seeking forgiveness for our wanderings, continually having hope in the redeeming and straightening qualities of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we will certainly be able to look back at our lives and realize just how even and beautiful our first row has become. Christ will assist us in removing the swerving of sin, and the deviations of doubt. He will liberate us from that oppressive and counter-productive lens of the microscope. I believe that ultimately God wants us to take that proverbial 35,000 foot view of our row. Perhaps from that perspective, there is relatively little to no obvious deviation between our row and Christs. After all, I believe He views us from an eternal perspective of potential, not the immediate consequence of poor choices. He can see the potential within us for making our rows straighter and straighter.
I have a sincere hope in the ability of Christ to assist us in keeping our row straight. If we continually apply His gift to our life, the straighter our first row, and the more success we will have in keeping all other rows we make in this life straight.
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