At Calvin Seminary, each student has a story of calling. Some stories are bold and bright, others are still coming into focus. What they have in common, however, is that each story is evidence of God's particular presence, power, and persuasion in one life. Here is one of those stories shared by seminary student Andrea Visser Bult.
My father is a seed planter. He has spent most of his 83 years working the soil, watching the sky, waiting and praying for harvest.
I grew up on Prince Edward Island and loved being out in the fields with my father. I sipped his coffee while we plowed, planted, fertilized, and harvested. “You have to turn the hard soil,” he’d say. “Air and water have to get down deep.”
I watched the plow turn the dark red soil behind us. After planting, my father applied fertilizer: two parts nitrogen, two parts phosphorus, one part hope. During harvest, I napped behind his seat in the combine, until at age nine, I was considered old enough to drive it myself.
I can still see my dad walking through a ripe field of wheat, hands out at his sides, brushing the beards at the top of the grain. I can still feel the ache in my back after spending Saturdays in the field with him, bent under the sun, picking rocks the size of my head.
Barbara Brown Taylor often connects work and prayer. She writes, “It is good work, this prayer. It is good prayer, this work.” My father’s entire life has been this kind of work-slash-prayer: working the earth in hopes of a harvest.
So when I sensed God calling me to seminary, I was surprised. I don’t come from a family of pastors or scholars. My ancestors have been farmers for many generations. We are potato people, not preaching people.
God began to show me that he was calling me into the service of a different kind of harvest. He was calling me to use words to work the earth of people’s hearts. There too the soil can be terribly rocky, hardened by seasons of sun-scorched suffering or choked by the thistles of doubt and cynicism.
Fortunately, I serve a generous sower. He does not hold back but scatters seed on all types of soil. It is in his service, and for his harvest that I will work. Turning the hardened soil of the heart with the plow shear of God’s grace. Exposing stale places to the fresh air of the Spirit. And praying that the living water will indeed go down deep.
I will do what my earthly father does: work, watch, wait, and pray. All the while knowing that neither she who plants nor he who waters is anything. It is God who makes it grow.
Jesus said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
I am grateful to be the daughter of a seed-planting farmer. And I am grateful for the people alongside me at Calvin Seminary who are preparing for these harvest fields. God has bound us together for a growing season. Let us all work, watch, wait, and pray, and may we bear good fruit.