So God Made Vocation


Did you see the great Super Bowl commercial about farmers? In this week's article spotlight, HT is pleased to share a blog post by Pastor Sam Schuldheisz in which he talks about the great example of the biblical teaching of vocation provided by that ad. Pastor Sam Schuldheisz is a Son of Adam who serves as pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Huntington Beach, CA.
The original blog article appears here.

Rev. Sam Schuldheisz

Overall the commercials at his year's Super Bowl (er, excuse me, Big Game) were about as good as the Niners in the first half. At one point I was actually hoping that a similar power outage would have taken place at my local CBS station so as to avoid any more painfully gross Go Daddy commercials, gack! Of course there were a few honorable mentions, the Volkswagen bit was clever, although it was no Darth Vader of a few years ago. And the talking E-Trade baby always gets a snicker or two. But the winner in my playbook was the Dodge Ram commercial featuring the late Paul Harvey giving his famous speech, So God Made a Farmer. Here's the text below in case anyone missed it. You can also check out the video here.

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer.

God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board." So God made a farmer.

"I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a farmer.

God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.

God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.

"Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a farmer.

And now for the rest of the story...

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Of course, we know from Genesis 1-3 that God didn't actually say any of these things. But that's not the point. Without ever using the word (perhaps even without even knowing it at all), Paul Harvey spoke truthfully about God's gift of vocation, a gift that began even before the Fall into sin. And a gift which continues after the Fall into sin as well, whether you're a farmer, a truck-driver, a teacher, pastor, law enforcement officer, mother, father, sibling, gardener, and the like. The farmer, you see, is a mask of God. Because of the vocation of farmer - and countless others - we are able to sit around our dinner table and not only thank God for our daily bread, but eat it and enjoy it as a gift. Above all, that's what vocation is, gift, given to us without any merit or worthiness in us, out of pure Fatherly, divine goodness. Truth be told, God could snap his fingers - zap! poof! wizbang! - and your refrigerator and table would be be graced with more abundance than all the Big Game parties combined, a veritable smorgasbord of First Article gifts. And, it's worth noting, that He could do the same with miraculous healing as well. We read of countless examples of Christ's immediate work throughout the Scriptures. But mostly, he works mediately, that is to say, through means. For healing he uses doctors and nurses. He uses medicine and technology. And the same is true for every facet of earthly life. God uses means. And it's no less miraculous when He uses ordinary means to hide his work behind for our benefit. In fact, if Luther is right (and I think he is here) it is precisely in the ordinary that God continues to work his hidden holiness for our well being and the good of the neighbor.

And it's not just the farmer and the myriads of other masks God uses to serve us, it's also in the seed, the seed of God's Word. Not only does Christ make farmers. He himself is the archetype farmer, the Sower in human flesh and blood. So it should be no surprise that He also uses the means of His creation to bless, preserve and save us. He plants His Word in the mouth of sinners - and it is no less miraculous than when he says it himself. Pastors are mouthpieces, hands, heralds, and helpers. He waters that planted Word by water, Word and Spirit. And our faith in Christ grows by the same breath of life that hovered over the waters of creation and filled Adam's lungs with life. That's the Holy Spirit's vocation, to show you Jesus. You are fed with the finest of foods and the richest of wines, Christ's very body and blood. And all of this through means. That's good news. Because the best part about it all is, it's free - not an over-paid, sensationalistic advertisement in sight. Your vocation is a gift because Christ is crucified and risen for you. And you are a living sacrifice for your neighbor.

So God made vocation...on the 6th day and every day since then. And he made it for you. Behold, it is very good.

Created: February 5th, 2013