Summer is a time of opening things up and getting light on everything. I love the smell of fresh air that comes with summer. Unless I’m hauling a load of manure… I think that would be called ripe.
As a kid, I remember my mom reading books to me of stories from the “olden days” when they would bring out all the rugs, hang them on the clothes line and pound them until they were dustless. Then they would scrub the floors and restuff the mattresses with straw.
Before we had a milking parlor, we had a 60 stall barn. This was back in the “olden days” when we used the International H tractor and we didn’t own a power washer.
Every summer, to prepare for our inspection, we would head to town to the hardware store and rent a pressure washer. That whole day was a mixture of fun, cool-misting water, slimy dirt spraying in your face, and tired hands and forearms as you held back the pressure on the wand. It was most fun when a wayward brother or sister would venture close enough to engulf them in a swirling cloud of mist. And, depending on the time, they might stand there laughing in happiness and enjoying the cool water or they’d run screaming back out the door.
By the end of the day, the barn had a wet, fresh smell, shiny pipeline, and clean gray walls of freshly washed cement.
Things are a little different these days in a remodeled barn with a swing 10 parlor that has white epoxy walls and shiny stainless steel all around. That parlor gets washed twice a day every day. On Christmas, on your birthday, and every sick day in between.
But there’s still the holding area that gets cleaned less often. When I stepped out into the darkness of an August morning and the hot, humid heat wrapped around me, I knew that would be the day for some extra cleaning. Those wet sticky days can make the cement walls sweat and on those days, half the job is already done. The sweating barn walls were an invitation to me to get the splatters and dust off. Since I no longer live in the “olden days,” I grab the hose and wand, from our permanently installed power washer, and pull it out of the reel.
As I’m spraying the splatters off the white doors in the holding area, I realize the importance of focus. Unless I focus the power of the sprayer directly on each spot, they will always be there. It takes purposeful directed focus on each spot to do what needs to be done.
Where does my life need focus? There are a lot of areas that could take more time than I have to give. Do we let our life be taken over by whatever is most demanding? Or do we mount a defense against those things that seek to destroy us through our complacent willingness?
So, where should we focus? I recently heard a guest on one of my favorite podcasts say that there are three areas where you cannot be replaced; father, husband, and disciple. Or mother, wife, and disciple.
In this life, that is here and gone like a mist in the morning, it is important to give focus to the three jobs God has specifically given to each one of us.
#1. You are your children’s only father or mother. Paul David Tripp says, “The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change.” Also, “Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.” You, as a parent, are specifically tasked to lead your children.
#2. Your spouse needs focused attention that is specific only to them and can be given only by you.
#3 As for disciple, I’d like to quote the late Jim Elliot who was killed as a missionary. He said, “Only one life will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Meet your farmer – Jonathan Gerdes. He and his wife run a farm-to-table raw milk dairy in Caledonia, Minn. If he isn’t in the barn, you can find him dating his wife, playing with his kids, leading youth group, or flying in the sky. Visit gerdesfreshfarm.com for more info.