Sam Wiley was my farm manager and “do everything” person for twenty-eight years. He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and a secret romantic. Sam brought me more flowers than any other man, although he picked them all from my yard. He loved children and animals and gardening.
Unfortunately, Sam believed there were some jobs that women should never do. It took years for me to convince him to let me drive my own tractor. Use a chainsaw? Unthinkable. Bushhog? Not an option. Engine repair? Mechanics? Not fit for a woman. Sam taught me lots of things, but how to run the farm without him wasn’t one of them. He died in November 2017. Now I do the work he used to do. Well, I try.
The insanely steep learning curve
If I’m honest, I’m not that great at it. I don’t know how to hook the bush-hog onto the tractor and, even if I managed to get it hooked up, I don’t actually know how to bush-hog. The list of skills I don’t have is far longer than that of the skills I have.
One thing I know how to do is string barbed-wire. I can fix a fence and make it tight. I believe I can build a fence from start to finish, but I haven’t actually done that yet. One step at a time.
This winter, I had more days than I like to admit when I thought, “I should give up. This is too hard. I’m not this tough.” I look at the scars on my hands, the barbed wire scratches, and the stains ground into my skin and wonder if I want to be this tough.
At my lowest point, something always happens that says, “Yes. Stay the course.”
I had one of those moments last Sunday. I woke up with a strong impression that I should check the fence around the horse pasture. This was a foolish prayer, but I prayed, “Lord, I’m glad to check the fence, but I promised You I wouldn’t work on Sunday. If it needs fixing, I’ll do it on Monday.”
After church, I pulled on my jeans and boots and headed to the pasture, armed only with a pair of pliers. I’m just checking the fence, not fixing it, I told myself, so I left wire and clips in the barn. Halfway around the pasture, I began to feel smug. All the wire was intact and tight.
A few yards further along, I found a bad surprise. A big tree had fallen on the fence and smashed all four strands of barbed wire to the ground. The crash broke the wire down the line in several places. A gaping hole in the fence was big enough for the largest horse to walk through without scraping her sides. I didn’t dare leave it.
The only option
My non-existent options didn’t look good, but I tried to make a plan that didn’t involve returning to the barn for supplies.
- If I could get one strand loose, I could run it across the expanse and keep the horses in while I went to get a roll of barbed wire, I decided. This, of course, required me to get the wire out from under the trunk of the tree. It was bigger around than my thigh. I tugged, pushed, and tried to lift it without success.
- My next idea was to chop the tree in half using my pliers. I managed to knock off some bark but, after five minutes of pointless stabbing, I gave up on that idea, too.
- Finally, I realized I had only one option. Leave the hole. Go back to the barn and get wire and clips, and hope the horses stay in the pasture instead of wandering onto the neighbor’s property.
The unlikely prayer
I was already praying nonstop, but I stopped to pray again. “Lord, I need to fix this fence, but I have to have wire and I’m afraid the horses will wander right out of this hole while I’m gone. Please help me and show me what to do.”
As prayers go, it wasn’t fancy. I didn’t rebuke any enemies. I didn’t offer suggestions for miraculous interventions. I just asked for help and wisdom and left the figuring-it-out to God.
I stood there a moment, waiting to see if He would drop an intact fence from the sky, but He didn’t. Get going. Those two words rang in my heart. I was hesitant but I started walking down the fence line again. Pretty soon, I found one more patch of broken wire. My heart sank.
The incredible answer
After another few steps, I stopped in my tracks. A partial roll of barbed wire hung from a fence post. Heavy wire, suitable to make fencing clips, dangled from it.
Everything I needed was already there.
I stood in stunned silence for a moment. Sam was too sick the last few years to walk the fence. If he left it there, and he must have, it was several years ago. The wire was in place, years before the day I needed it.
Because there wasn’t much wire on the roll, the weight was manageable and the roll easily portable. I lifted it off the post and started fencing.
Just as He always does, when I didn’t know what to do, I prayed and God answered. He showed me how to get the wire freed from the smashing tree without cutting it. He gave me superhuman strength to lift the tree just enough to drag the wire from under it.
In less than two hours, I was done and the fence was tight.
Nothing is impossible with God
This year, I faced the seemingly impossible more than once but the verse “Is anything too hard for Me?” always came to mind. (Jeremiah 32:27) The answer, every time, was no. Nothing is too hard for our Lord. Nothing is impossible.
I’ve seen this truth so many times, I wonder why I waste a moment with worry and fear. But I do.
I faced the loss of vision due to a viral infection, slim finances and increased expenses, changes in ministry, and a workload that would keep three people busy, yet God brought me through every challenge. Sometimes His intervention was simple and small. Sometimes, it was flashy and seemingly-impossible. Every time, He gave exactly what I needed.
God is able.
No matter what challenge we face, our God can see us through. He loves us and He cares for us. If He meets the needs of the birds of the air and the animals in the field, He can certainly meet our needs. God will give us what we need.
What about those times when it seems as if God doesn’t hear and doesn’t answer? What about when the answer is delayed?
If nothing is impossible with God, why don’t I experience it more often?
I don’t presume to speak for Him, but I’ve found more than one reason God’s intervention is delayed. Here are just a few:
I learned a hard truth a few years ago. When Jesus said to take His yoke and learn from Him, it wasn’t a suggestion, nor was it optional. We’re supposed to obey, not struggle along without Him. If I want to carry a burden instead of giving it to God, He won’t wrestle me for it. Instead, He lets me trudge along, struggling all the way until I’m willing to give my concerns to Him.
I want my way instead of His.
God’s ways are not my ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9) There are times when I don’t want the God-way of forgiving enemies, loving all my neighbors, extravagant giving, relentless service. Sometimes, I want the way of the world instead of the way of faith, or I think I do. God may delay because I’m not ready to do things His way (Luke 22:42).
There’s a lesson to learn.
My eye healing was, I believe, delayed a bit because I needed to learn the all-important lessons of balance and rest. (Psalm 119:33) It wasn’t meanness on God’s part to allow me to struggle. I needed to address my priorities and my workload. The delay forced me to see things God’s way and align my life with His a little better.
My struggle makes me stronger.
God’s desire for us is not an ever-easier life. His desire is for us to conform to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29) He wants us to grow more and more like Jesus. Our struggle in trials allows us to gain patience, perseverance, and perfection, all impossible any other way.
Sin is in the way.
When I cling to unconfessed sin, it creates a barrier between me and God. Sometimes, I need to confess my sin and get forgiveness before I move forward. There are times when what I need most are repentance and forgiveness. My “problem” must wait until the most important need is addressed.
Lack of gratitude for what God has already done.
God used Psalm 50:14-15 to teach me the importance of giving thanks even when times are hard. In my most difficult times, when it seems God is silent, I’ve found thanksgiving to be a key that unlocks the barrier between us. “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God…” is more important than we realize. If we need a prayer answered, giving thanks is a good place to start.
At some point, we all face impossible situations in which only a miraculous intervention of God will bring us through. When we do, there’s no need for panic. Take time to surrender the burden, learn the lesson, repent of the sin, and offer thanksgiving. We serve a prayer-hearing, impossible-doing God who loves us more than we know, so fear not. He has everything under control.
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27
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