No. 61

Former President Thomas Jefferson once said, "Farmers are the chosen people of God." Over the years I've come to have a deep respect for our nation's farmers. They have come a long way since Jefferson spoke those words and today, they not only produce the fruits, vegetables, meat and other foodstuffs we need, but they also help to feed millions of people all over the world. Sometime back I heard the following story about a farmer and a preacher that contains a message every American should stop to consider.
One Saturday morning a preacher was riding down a country road and he came to the most beautiful farm he had ever seen. The house had just been painted, the grass was freshly mowed and a beautiful row of flowers lined the driveway. The barns, fences and fields were in the same condition. They were immaculate. As he drove on, the preacher saw the farmer out on his tractor plowing and he was so impressed that he stopped his car and waited for him to get down near the end of the row. At this point, he hailed him and when the farmer came over he said, "My good man, God has certainly blessed you with a beautiful farm." The farmer backed up, thought for a moment and then said, "Yes, He has, and I'm grateful, but you should have seen this place when God had it all by Himself."
They chit chatted for a while but on his way back to town, the preacher began to think about what the farmer had said, and then he had his sermon for the next day. You see, he began to realize that all the farmers up and down that road had bought or inherited the same type of land, but here was an example of where one farmer had made something great out of his. The message here for each of us should be obvious. If you will take a moment and think about it, in this sense you are given the same land, too. You were given a marvelous human mind, a body and opportunity in what could be called the greatest farm in the world: The United States of America! Unless there are limitations and circumstances beyond your control, if you have not already done so, you too can make something great out of your life. Even in these days of high taxes, government regulations and the ever present threat of inflation, the United States still has great opportunities for most of us. However, I'm convinced that most people never see or take advantage of them because they are preconditioned by those around them.
Unfortunately, too many people see themselves as destined to fail, because they were born poor, born with the 'wrong' color skin, born on the wrong side of the tracks, never had a chance to get a good education or any number of other reasons, which in reality are only excuses. While this may sound strange, I believe the people in this country who are at the greatest disadvantage are those who were born rich. To illustrate what I'm saying, sometime when it's convenient, go into a forest and notice the giant trees that almost blot out the sun. When you see a small tree in their midst, notice how it has to struggle to survive. It has to fight for moisture, because roots of the big trees are deeper. It gets very little sunlight, because it is overshadowed and it is sheltered from the wind, which has already made the big trees strong.
While it may not be obvious, human beings are much the same way. When we have been taught character values and have to earn our own fortune by the sweat of our brow , the chances are much better that we will keep it and appreciate its value. Over the coming weeks and months, I hope you will think about the preacher and the farmer and how the message it contains could help you. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)