God Calls A Farmer

God Calls a Farmer

Amos 1:1, 7:10-17

“I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.” 

 

            Amos has long been my favorite prophet.  He did not arise from the aristocracy.  He did not come from a wealthy home.  He did not come from a priestly family.  He was a farmer from Tekoa.  While I did not grow up in Tekoa, I did grow up in the small town of Tensed, which was only 20 miles from Tekoa (not Tekoa, Israel, but Tekoa, Washington). Furthermore, he did nothing spectacular, nothing that gained the recognition of others. He was a farmer and rancher.  Nothing special. Even after he settled into his prophetic ministry, he refused to be called a prophet, but merely as a herdsman and a fruit grower (7:14). Echoing the words of Amos,  I have always stated that I am not a prophet nor am I the son of a prophet (7:14). But I was the son of a godly man who had a great deal of wisdom.  While my father was not educated by the standards of the world (he only had an 8th-grade education), yet his wisdom and insight into life earned the respect of people in the community.  He never accumulated any wealth.  We lived in a small house with approximately 1,000 square feet. His success was not measured by his accomplishments but by his godly character.

            Like Amos, there was nothing in my background that would impress people.  I attended a small church that averaged 40-50 people in attendance (half of whom were my relatives).  The school I attended was not a prestigious prep school but one whose size paralleled its location.  When my class graduated from high school, it was one of the larger classes, with a graduating class of a whopping 31.  My brother’s class that graduated the previous year had 19 students (the total enrollment at the high school was 110). Throughout high school and college, I spent my summer driving a tractor or combine for neighbors, always looking for “farm boys” to hire. I attended a small Bible College in central Montana.  I still enjoy going back and spending several weeks driving a tractor on the farm, helping my brothers.

            However, at age 12, I was sitting in the back row of our small country church.  The speaker that night was a missionary named Joe Goodman.  He was always our favorite because he served in Borneo, where the people were former headhunters.  So he would captivate us with his stories of the early days in the bush.  Sitting in the back of the church that night, I do not remember the subject of his sermon.  However, what is cemented in my mind is that as Joe spoke, I became fully aware that God was calling me into ministry.  It was not a dramatic event. No audible voice. Nothing stirred my emotions. No going forward at for an alter call. It was just a thought, a deep conviction of the soul, that my life purpose was not to remain on the farm (as my brothers did). Instead, my life was to proclaim God's word to others.  From that moment onward, there was never a doubt in my mind that I was called to full-time ministry. So, 52 years later, I am still called to be a servant of Christ who challenges people to live for him.

            In the story of Amos, we are reminded that God does not call the great, the talented, the rich, the gifted, or the privileged; he calls ordinary people to serve him and proclaim his message to people without compromise.  Like Amos, I am just a farm boy whom God called to “Go prophecy to My people.”  But that calling is not just for me; it is a calling to all of us to become servants of Christ in the church, not because we are talented and skilled, but simply because we are his servants. God uses unlikely, untalented people to accomplish his purpose.  He employs people like you and me.  In the end, I am just a farm kid whom God called to faithfully preach his word to others, and that is all I ever want to be.

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