Grady Thorsgard called the office one morning inviting me to stop by to witness the harvesting of a field of corn near their home place. I jumped in the car eager to see the action. My grandfather was a farmer in McIntosh, a small town in central Minnesota, so I had been in harvest fields and ridden in combines. I had even worked a couple of summers for my grandfather driving grain truck. Of course times had changed since my harvest experience and it was quite the treat to ride in the modern equipment used today. My first stop was to ride with Luke who took me in the grain cart rig he was driving. His job was to transport grain from the combine in the field to the semi waiting by the side of the road. As Luke was filling the semi, he explained how sensors on the grain cart were keeping track of the pounds of grain being transferred. When a buzzer sounded, he told me the maximum weight allowed on the semi had been reached …. amazing. From the grain cart I was invited to ride in the combine Ben was driving. I was immediately impressed with the roaring sound as the combine powerfully sucked stalks of corn through its machinery. Ben showed me the gps autosteer and hands-free driving. He pointed me to a color-coded screen showing in real-time the bushels per acre being combined on each spot on the field. If I remember right, you wanted the screen to show a lot of green which indicated a high yield while purple was the low yield color. It was fascinating technology and a joy to see the harvest action. After an hour or so, it was around noon and Marilyn invited me to join the crew for some great chili for lunch. What a great experience!
I thought of those couple of hours with the Thorsgard crew as I reflected on this Thanksgiving season and the bounty of blessing we enjoy. As I watched hopper after hopper filling with a seeming endless supply of corn, God has again blessed us in this land of plenty with the privilege of another bumper crop. Recent news articles share how globally we’re in the third year of exceptional yields to the point where the title of one article asks, “Who wants my corn? U.S. farmers grapple with another super crop”.
It’s good to ‘grapple’ with the abundance God has given us. King David in the Psalms was grappling with the blessings of God in his life. With all the Lord was providing him, the King concluded he needed to command himself to remember and thank and praise God for His goodness – “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2)
Evidently, David knows his own tendency to forget the many gifts and blessings the Lord provides him. Even though he may not remember all the blessings of God upon his life, he commands his soul – “I can’t forget all that He’s done for me.” I think of Daniel who the bible says, “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10). Like David, Daniel disciplined himself to pray thanksgiving for the every day common things God provided.
Food …. who thanks the Lord for something as common as our daily bread? I hope many of you do. It’s part of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread”. Our table prayers direct us in this way. Yet, food is so abundant in our country, it may be as though our table prayers of thanks are only lip service as can take the supply of daily bread for granted, something we’re even entitled to as Americans.
A poem from G.K. Chesterton challenges us to stay in a state of wonder over the common gifts of life:
Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
Why am I allowed two? Why am I allowed three and four days of grace? Why do I have so much that I have to command myself “forget not all his benefits”? The only answer is the goodness, grace, kindness, love, mercy of God.
Next time we walk through the modern supermarket filling our carts with a seeming endless supply of provision and after bringing home this bounty restocking our cupboards with foods in all its variety we may need to pause with cupboards open commanding our souls “forget not all his benefits” and give thanks to a God who offers us such rich provision.
Thanks to the many who have welcomed me into their homes these last weeks as I try to get better acquainted. I continue to look forward to these times and hope to be able to become less a stranger and more a Northwoodite.