Zeke sank into the worn armchair opposite the desk. The farmer—embarrassed—quickly pulled off his dusty baseball cap and twisted it in his calloused hands. Pastor Simms waited patiently. He knew that it was not easy for Zeke to come to him for this conversation. Like most farmers, Zeke could hold his own talking about the price of corn, but discussing things spiritual with the pastor was foreign territory.
Zeke cleared his throat. When nothing was forthcoming, Pastor Simms suddenly asked, “Would you like a glass of water?”
Startled, the farmer stuttered, “Why, ye-yes I would like that, p-please, Sir.”
“Here you go, Zeke,” Pastor Simms said after pouring him a tall glass of ice water.
“Thank you, Pastor Simms, Sir.”
“Now, Zeke, how about calling me ‘Pastor’ and dropping the ‘Sir’, okay?” Pastor Simms said with a warm smile, as he stood and reached across the desk.
“That’s a deal, Pastor!” Zeke said as he shook the other’s hand.
“Now, what is it you wanted to talk to me about, Zeke?”
“Well, I just wanted to ask you somethin’.”
“Alright, Zeke, ask anything you want—I won’t be offended—and neither will God.”
“Okay, Pastor, here it is: what does it mean to live the abundant life? I’ve been a Christian since I was fifteen, and I can’t say I’ve ever had much abundance. –And lately things have gotten down right sparse!”
“Well, I know everyone’s been having problems in this drought, Zeke, but what’s going on with you?”
The farmer heaved a big sigh. “Well, my irrigation system went belly up last month and that put my corn crop way behind. I’ll be lucky if my corn is ‘ankle high by the Fourth of July’! Then diseases killed two thirds of my best laying hens and half my new piglets before the vet could put them to rights. My wife was laid up twice as long as me with that awful stomach virus…and now we have all those bills coming in—irrigation repair, doctor, emergency room—oh, and the vet bills. Thank God, our kids didn’t catch the virus, but while we were laid up, they had to miss school to keep the farm going and Lillie Jane got so far behind in math we had to hire a tutor. Since I’m already a payment behind on the mortgage, we finally had to face facts. In order to pay the current bills and save the farm, I’m gonna let our hired hand go, we may have to sell some of our family heirlooms and tonight I start working evenings pumping gas at the Grange Co-Op!”
“Who-ee, Zeke,” Pastor Simms said with a shake of his head, “you do have your problems! I certainly would never have guessed it by what I see from you all on Sundays--happy smiling faces, tithing right along, singing praises to the Lord, voicing your testimonies of God’s blessings…”
“Well, Pastor, I hope you don’t think that’s all an act we put on for Sundays—because it’s not! We love the Lord with our whole hearts and praise Him daily for His blessings. –And we’d never think of withholding from God what is His! ”
“Blessings! Sounds to me like God’s just giving you a passel of troubles in exchange for all your faithfulness,” Pastor Simms said with a hint of a twinkle in his eye.
“Now, Pastor, I can’t believe you said that! Surely you don’t think God OWES me only good just because I tithe faithfully and go to church regular?! He doesn’t even owe me because I choose to follow Him. –But I owe God my very soul for His Son’s death on that cross! Because of His sacrifice I’ll live forever—and I’ve got the best life I could ever ask for here on earth, too: a Christian wife and kids who are all healthy, a job I love, a great and supportive church in a country full of freedoms…”
“Hmmm, Zeke,” pondered the pastor aloud, “you might say you’re living the abundant life, huh?”
“Yes, indeed, Pastor—the abundant life!” Zeke stopped short. “Ohhhh, I see--abundance on God’s terms has nothing to do with prosperity and everything going right, does it? I could lose everything I own and still be living the abundant life if Jesus is my Savior and my Lord! Well, well…it sure has helped talking with you, Pastor.”
“Now, Zeke, seems like I didn’t really have to do all that much…”
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