Baling hay is easy. Sure, you’ve heard the horror stories about the heat and the dust, but they’re really overblown. You lift the 70lb bale off the chute and stack it on the trailer. If you’re really smart you can build several platforms of bales that you climb to stack the new hay on. For a 15yo boy who was fairly active it was good exercise and made me feel like a man.
What I didn’t understand was why these folks had waited to ask my brother and I for help. You see, as we approached the barn with our first load I could see that the only empty spot in the barn was where we were pulling the trailer – and there was still a lot of hay left in the field. The farmer and his wife, who were both closer to 70 than I was 20, then explained what was about to happen.
I then discovered that putting hay away is an entirely different story. Focus. Pain. Dust. Heat. Fatigue. More dust. Unbearable heat. More fatigue. This farmer had filled his barn to the rafters. It was now our responsibility to fill the rafters. Each bale had to be dragged through a space that was barely large enough to crawl thru and wedged next to another offending bale. All the while this farmer pointed and prodded us to make sure no space was wasted.
The difference between simply stacking hay on a trailer and cramming it into the overheated rafters of a tin-roofed barn is similar to having a theology and living with Christ as our focus. I have sure bailed a lot of hay as I’ve spent time telling others what I believed. It’s when I’ve begun to make Christ my focus that I see my enemy as my friend and am willing to bless those who would persecute me.
I’m a long way from having this thing figured out but let me quickly remind you of Peter’s lesson from Jesus. Jesus was earning his disciples of the danger of leading children astray. As he pointed out that anyone who misled the children should be punished he gave them guidelines for dealing with someone who had wronged them. Peter, being the sharp thinker that he was saw an opportunity and sought some clarification from Jesus.
What Peter wanted to know was exactly how far he had to go. Jesus’ answer was simple and concise: You don’t stop.
You can read this story in Matthew 18 as I leave you with a few more words from Jesus.
“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.