Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, will offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
Sadly, all too often our news contains reports of serious and sometimes fatal, accidents on farms. Perhaps some readers of this column have been involved in, or touched by, such a tragedy and still feel the pain greatly and I understand. But for some there is a tendency to adopt an attitude that such a thing won’t happen to me, as accidents always happen to others!
Back in the 1960s, when I was a teenager, I used to work in my spare time on a small farm where I spent many happy hours on a ‘little grey Fergie’, the Ferguson T 20. Many years later I was able to purchase one of these tractors and restore it to good working condition.
Some years later still I was given a Denning mid-mounted reaper, which I fitted to the tractor. This also took me back to my teens as I had worked with one of these reapers – they were not as common as the rear-mounted reapers became at that time, long before the advent of rotary mowers. You might remember them too.
One day I had the tractor running, but the reaper was not lifting and lowering properly and I was standing behind the rear axle trying to figure out what the problem was. Suddenly I felt like rapid tugging at my leg and in a few seconds the leg of my boiler suit had been ripped to pieces - it had got caught in the PTO shaft!
Thankfully the fabric ripped completely and the only injuries were a few scrapes on my leg. I was very thankful to God for His protection that day, because I know that many PTO accidents are much more serious. ‘It won’t happen to me,’ we say. But in my case it did!
Many farm accidents are foreseeable and preventable, just like mine. (I shouldn’t have been standing where I was with the PTO going.) And in life many things happen that are unpredictable and therefore we cannot prepare for them.
The Bible, however, speaks of two things which are foreseeable and which we must prepare for. Firstly, however much we may try to avoid thinking about this particular subject, we all know that we must die at some stage. The Bible also tells us clearly that after death comes the Judgment, when we all must stand before the God who is our Maker. So while we can never be sure of what ‘lies around the corner’ in this life, we can be sure of these two things and we need to prepare for them.
The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus came and died for us, so that those who truly repent of their sin (turning away from it) and truly trust in Him, can know Him as their Saviour. When we know this in our hearts, we can be prepared for what is to come - and even look forward to them with humble confidence, because on that day, the one who will be our judge, is the same one who loved us so much that He died to be our Saviour.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Patterson is a former GP who was ordained for the ministry in 1990. He retired in 2013 after 19 years as Minister of Castledawson and Curran Presbyterian churches in South Derry. Having worked on farms during his student days, before coming a minister, as a hobby he now enjoys restoring vintage farm machinery.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the subjects raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.