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Aim High and Don't Look Back


Pasture photo taken by Edwin Shank


Aim High and Don't Look Back

The words of my father ring like yesterday. “To drive a straight line, Edwin, pick out a point at the end of the field, and don’t take your eyes off it. Don’t look back even to see how you are doing." Forty years have passed since that day, and I guess I’ll be passing this farming wisdom to my grandchildren soon. But generational wisdom should and does grow with time. So please permit me to add a humble observation to the words of my father. This new bit recently impressed itself upon me. Let me tell you the story. It all started last Saturday. The pasture guys had been telling me that a 10-acre sward of fescue near the south edge of the farm had ‘gotten away from them.’ That’s grazer-speak meaning that they had not grazed it soon enough, the grass had gotten too mature, had gone to seed and was past its peak digestibility and nutrition for the lactating herd. So, the best way to fix this ‘run away grass’ is to fence off this section and turn our young stock and dry cows into it since their nutritional requirements of protein and energy are not as high as milk cows. Since this temporary fence will divide two groups of animals, and it’s especially important that it’s highly visible and not grown over with tall grass, I decided to mow a strip to make a nice clean fence line. And that’s when the words of my father came back. With the words of Dad in mind, I picked out my guidance spot on the horizon, fixed my eye on it, and with a resolve to not look back, set off with the mower. For the first hundred yards, all was well. But then the unexpected happened. The tree, on which I had locked my eyes, slowly sank from sight. I was left lost in a sea of waving grass, disoriented and not sure if I was still driving straight. So what happened? Did my guidance tree slide into a sink hole? Did someone cut it down about the time I started driving toward it? Was I losing my sight? None of the above. The path I was traveling simply had a low spot. Fields are that way sometimes. As I drove into this natural depression, the hill in front got between me and my guide tree. I had already been thinking of spiritual parallels as I set out to mow this path across the field. I had been thinking, how, to be spiritually successful with ourselves and our families and our communities that we must fix our vision on long-term values rather than current short-sighted wants. I had been thinking of how Jesus put it when he said “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” ~ Luke 9:62 (referencing the old, hand-guided plows pulled by animals) But I had been doing all this! I had fixed my eyes on a distant goal. I had not waivered nor looked back. Not even to see how I was doing. And yet, here I was... sitting... left to wander in the grass of the field. What went wrong? My mistake was that I had chosen a goal too close to the ground. I should have selected something higher. Something so high that no matter how deep the dip, it would still be a beacon above the horizon. So, lesson learned. I picked a new spot, this one on the mountain top... and started again on my path through the grass. As I went, I continued my revere. And I was impressed that this pasture incident has profound spiritual life applications too. To drive straight in life and not get off course and 'lost in the weeds' as soon as we hit the inevitable low spot (and life does have them), we must not only fix our eyes on a future long-term goal... but we must be sure to choose a goal that is on higher ground. The higher the better! Something very high that will not move and that we can always trust will be in view no matter how low our path goes. This high, always in view, always trustworthy, forever unmovable goal post is exactly what God's Word is to be to every Christian. Those of you who have been reading this blog from the first may remember the following words as I attempted to describe how powerful, and all-important God's Word is in directing our course in life... in directing the straightness of our 'path through the grass.' I repeat: "I cannot overstate our people's sincere trust in the truth and authority of the Bible. We truly do believe it is the inspired message from God. We collectively and personally are passionately committed to follow all of our heavenly Father's words of wisdom, and his loving instruction. We know he only wants what is best for us. And it is in the Bible that he tells us what is best for us. If you ever wish to comprehend our people's faith, you will need to understand this. Our total commitment to fully obey and literally apply the wisdom of God himself as shown to us through the Bible explains almost everything about the way we live. We sincerely do our best to apply God's principles to every area of our church life, our family life, our school life, our social life, and business life. We do not get it perfect, but we do give it our full-hearted best." Yes, God's Word is our guide-post. It is our high ground. It is sure. It is true. It is a light. It abideth forever! And we trust it's guidance fully. So, Dad, is it ok if I clarify your words of wisdom a bit as I pass them on to the next generation? “To drive a straight line, boys, pick out a point at the end of the field, and don’t take your eyes off it. Don’t look back even to see how you are doing. And be very sure that your guide point is on high ground. Because there will be low spots in the path.” Until next time,

Your Mennonite Christian friend Edwin Shank P.S. For further meditation, here are a few scriptures that came to mind as I thought on the truth of Jesus, the Word made flesh and the Bible, as the written Word of God being the guide for our path.

  • I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD ~ Psalm 121:1

  • “Unto thee lift I up my eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. ” ~Psalm 123:1

  • Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

  • Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. ~ John 8:12

  • Jesus said, As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. ~ John 9:5

  • The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. ~ Proverbs 4:1


NOTE: If you have questions or would like to talk more on this or any subject, you can always reach me by replying to this email. I'd be glad to help if I can in some way.


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Song of the Week For maximum worship experience, read and contemplate on the lyrics while listening. Just let the message sink into your heart. Sing along if you wish. Remember... it's only the message of the words that feeds the soul!

Click on the title to hear the song.




Sometimes in this life

We face trials severe,

And they’ll never cease

While we’re living down here.

But Jesus has promised

To guide us safe through

If we give our all,

And to Him we’ll be true.

There’s a hand at the Jordan

That before you may lie.

It will guide you across

No matter how wide.

Just reach out and clasp it,

This hand strong and true.

Then you’ll not need to tremble,

There’s a hand guiding you.


Some day when my time comes

To cross over the tide,

When I stand on the banks

Of this Jordan so wide,

There’ll be a hand to guide me,

'Cross the waters so deep,

Will be there to wipe my eyes

If for fear I do weep.

There’s a hand at the Jordan,

That before you may lie.

It will guide you across,

No matter how wide.

Just reach out and clasp it,

This hand strong and true.

Then you’ll not need to tremble,

There’s a hand guiding you.


There's a hand at the Jordan

That before you may lie.

It will guide you across,

No matter how wide.

Just reach out and clasp it,

This hand strong and true.

Then you’ll not need to tremble,

There’s a hand guiding you.


Then you’ll not need to tremble,

There’s a hand guiding you…


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