“I’m gonna live where the green grass grows, watch my corn pop up in rows, every night be tucked in close to youuuuuuu. Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed, point our rockin’ chairs towards the west, and plant our dreams where the peaceful river flowwwwwwws. Where the green grass grows.” -Tim McGraw
I’ve come to this astonishing realization over the past few months about myself and the people around me– some people ACTUALLY think I’m country. Dirt road, farm-raised, cowboy kinda country. And if you look at my life via facebook pictures and country music radio quotes, I could see how people would think that. I love to ride horses, I know every word to every country song that comes on, and bare feet settlin’ down on a dirt road is one of the best feelings this world’s got. But for those who know me past the social media windows, I think it’s safe to say that I’m pretty far from thoroughbred country. I grew up in a neighborhood, I couldn’t work a farm if I had a to-do list to go by, and I played tennis all through high school and college. Not necessarily your typical country boy profile… But I’ve always wanted to fit that stereotype of a country boy. I’ve always wanted to work a farm– to plow the dirt, live day-to-day, dependent on the weather and ground for a living. A simple life– a life where some harvests are not seen until long after the labor is invested. It seems a strange dream, one that I’ve always thought would never come true in my own life. Until I started realizing something.. until I found exactly where the green grass grows.
Props to Tim McGraw, by the way, for singing the lyrics posted above. I’m sure he had nothing to do with writing them, but it echoes a childhood (and current) small town dream that I’ve always wanted for reasons unknown even to me. The song immediately reminds me of my dream farm home (which, I wish all of you could see the picture painted in my head right now. Cause it’s awesome). I won’t pretend to know much about farming, but I was reminded today by a friend of one solid fact: a farmer’s profession is one where everyone else benefits from his work. Though that statement can apply to so many professions, this image of a farmer’s life is so much more vivid than any other vocation. Farmers grow food– literally, the basics of nourishment. If it weren’t for farmers, think of the things we wouldn’t have. They plow, they plant, and before they can breathe, their harvest is given to whomever is willing to take it. Annnnd kaboom. That was it.
I will fight day and night with anyone who wants to argue the following fact: Jesus was a country boy (yes, I just said that). He is the ultimate plower of hardened hearts, the planter of new life, and the magnificent harvester of the glory reflected from lives lived for Him and through Him. Jesus was a teacher. Jesus was/is a Savior. And who’d a thunk it.. Jesus was a country boy.
Now, for all the country music haters and hipsters and whoever else that is feeling nauseous at my above comments.. I’m going to explain myself. I’ve always wanted to know why I have this deep desire to own and work a farm. To be country. To be a cowboy.. And so on and so forth… And this is why. The life a farmer lives is dedicated to providing the basics for everyone else. His success is dependent on how effective he is at giving what he plants life to be used by others. Does this sound familiar? Is there anything in a farmer’s life that hits home with any of us? Because it’s the same life that we are called to live every day. We are to plant the seed of the gospel in the people around us. We are to depend solely on the Holy Spirit to plow through the hardened hearts of this world and bring life to the ones who don’t have it… A SPIRIT-BREATHED life. A life that this world doesn’t understand.
I hear all the time about how farmer’s seem to be a dying breed. I mean, honestly… Who wants to have their income dependent on the weather and some dry ground? Both of these things are in charge of whether or not farms are successful or failures. Their lifestyle goes against everything the world tells us to be: independent, self-sufficient, wealthy, financially responsible, etc. This life, this reversal of what we are told by society is the same life we are called to live day in and day out as followers of Christ. We are called to depend on God for everything. And just like farmers, I sometimes feel the followers of Christ who truly live that way are a dying breed as well. I think our generation is suffering from a disease of misunderstanding about what it means to follow Jesus, and, don’t get me wrong, I am included in this group. But for some reason, we don’t expect to be treated like Jesus was. We don’t expect to be persecuted or rejected, even though we are promised both in Scripture. We expect to call ourselves followers of Christ without actually going against the same world that rejected and killed Him.
Where the Green Grass Grows. I don’t know about you, but those five words paint the picture of a southern home on a farm, with a white picket fence and a bunch of horses running wild. Maybe some corn poppin’ up behind the house. Beautiful images fill my mind for sure. But I’m learning that’s not exactly where the REAL harvest lies. The real harvest comes in a life that is lived according to the Holy Spirit. And that life is not easy. It’s not unicorns and butterflies all the time. If you look at the lives of those who followed Jesus from Scripture (the disciples), their lives were anything but pretty. Indeed, the harvest cultivated from the Spirit’s movement through their lives was not always seen. But they understood that they were following an enemy of the world. They understood what it meant to truly follow Christ, apart from the rejection of what this world has fallen into. Living a life dependent on the Spirit and independent on what the world has to say about it— THAT’S where the real green grass grows.
It’s true, I’ve always wanted to be country. And I think the reason lies inherently in who I am made to be. A life lived in response to the Spirit is, indeed, country (based on what I’ve stated). It’s cowboy adventure, it’s hard working farming, it’s epic. Because we are living a story not written by ourselves. We are living the story of responding and following an outlaw of this world. A man who was mocked, persecuted, and brutally murdered for his teachings and actions. Holy. Mess. John Wayne who? Jesus was one of the biggest outlaws history contains. And I think we have to realize that’s who we are following. When we are faced with rejection and mistreatment, take heart in the only thing worth holding onto: Jesus. His Spirit. Because He’s the only truth in a world that’s reversed how we were made to be. We were all made to be farmers of men. Country boys and girls who go against the flow of society for the sake of the people who reject them. That’s what we’re called to. And that’s where the green grass grows.
I’d like to chase the wind. I’d like to believe that I was called to a blend-in lifestyle, a normal life, where I could make comfortable decisions and live to please those around me. But the life God calls us to is not necessarily that. It’s much better. Much higher. Much more uncomfortable. Much more beautiful and scary. And much, MUCH less about us.. We are only vessels. And it’s high time we stop saying that cliche’ statement while leading lives that speak otherwise.
This airstream… it’s more than a container that gets me from A to B. It’s a symbol of dependence. It’s attached to a hitch on the back of a truck, and I don’t know where the driver is taking me. But maybe the point is understanding that the greener grass grows in a life that’s not in our own hands. The greener grass sprouts where the Holy Spirit drives. And that’s the destination we all must set our sights on.
In a country state of mind,