I have just come in from the cold after stacking hay in the barn with four of my children. Not many of you, if any, get to do that anymore. It wasn’t that long ago when that was a chore every household had to perform, or at least had to think about every year. You can go down any of the older streets in town and what they now use for automobile garages were yesterday’s stables. There are often stables a hundred and fifty feet or so behind the homes with a narrow alley behind them, to cart away the stuff they didn’t want to parade down Main Street.
So even the urban folks had to put up hay. Once you had a good store of fuel for heat, canned food for your family, and hay for your animals, you could breathe easy and rest. You knew you were ready for winter. Alas, this year it rained so much that hay is scarce around here. I’m still trying to find hay this last week of December. I find one farmer here, and another there who can spare a little. I’m not at rest. I’m not ready. It’s disconcerting.
Think of all the souls out there who are not ready. It’s not hay we’re talking about, either. They are not ready for marriage. They are not ready for raising children. They are not ready for getting older. They are not ready for death and eternity. They are clueless, in the dark, out in the cold. I may be uneasy about hay, but I have a God in heaven who has all things well in hand. He will help me. These folks have no one to turn to.
Send up a plea to Heaven this day, won’t you, for these poor, unprepared people. Name them by name if you can. Follow our Lord’s example, for He “Emptied Himself for others,” even on His day of rest. In a way, you’ll be “Putting up hay” for folks who can’t. Our Father will know how to get it to them, to help them get ready.
“Finally, brethren,” the writer of Hebrews admonishes us, “Since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude….to God.” I like to fill in the phrase, “receive a kingdom,” with all the things I can think of that are also true. In light of what I’m writing about, you could say, “I thank you Father because I receive help and illumination from above and I’m no longer in the dark.” Another reason for great gratitude is our salvation. You could say, “Since I receive truth and grace and I’m ready for Heaven, thank you Father.” Consider also how blessed we are to have the Holy Spirit. Return thanks to God, saying, “Since I receive the Holy Spirit and I’m ready for life here on Earth, thank you Father.”
Have fun filling in the blank, and showing gratitude to God today. It makes the cares and concerns of this world, “grow strangely dim.” He will take care of finding more hay next week.