Contentment: Resting in the Varied Provisions of the Lord
This seems like an obvious statement, especially in light of the Scriptures, but so often in our convenience culture, especially in the United States we have grown accustomed to an abundance of food, whatever, whenever, however we want it, regardless of the season. Strawberries in winter? Sure! Why not? Summer squash and zucchini? Absolutely! Spinach, lettuce, and greens? Why, the grocery store is just down the road, and many things can be grown in green houses year round. Why shouldn't I have what I want to eat regardless of the season?
I think that mentality and question miss the obvious points that the Lord built into His creation. There is a self-discipline in abstention. There is a spirituality in denying oneself. There is beauty in waiting upon the Lord for His provision and the cycles of seed time, harvest, sowing, gathering, preparation, enjoyment.
I don't mean to say that buying supermarket strawberries in January is some kind of fleshly sin. By God's grace we do have an abundance of food that we would not have otherwise had if it were not for the farmers who painstakingly raise said crops, and the modern technology that makes it possible. I'm merely posing the question, "What if there is something to be gained spiritually, and physically by eating local, in season foods in conjunction with the natural cycles God designed?"
I think many folks have already realized the benefits of scaling our food economy to a smaller and more locally sustainable model. And there is a lot to be said for raising and preserving your own food. There's a thought that floats around every so often that there is one right way of practicing preparedness or stewardship. I reject this thought.
The basis of preparedness-- for the Christian, at least-- is the full realization that Christ holds our days, our lives, our seasons. It is all subject to His sovereign omnipotence and will. The pattern of seasons is intended to point us toward our Good and Loving Heavenly Father, to cause us to know and understand Him more and more deeply. So for some folks, contentment and good stewardship may mean that they can't farm, but that they live beneath their financial means, give generously, support local growers, and keep well stocked pantries, whether with store bought goods, or home preserved. For other folks, it may look like growing a large garden, raising livestock, and living off the land.
In either case, the "heart of the homesteader," urban or rural, is dependent upon the Creator for whatever circumstances in which they live, and they steward all of their resources to the very best of their ability, whether they are financial, natural, or physical, or what have you.
But the key to remember is that our biggest and most important prep is spiritual. We have to be able to answer the big 3 questions of life- Where did I come from? Why am I here? And Where am I going when I die? All three are answered in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in Him all things were created (John 1:1-5), all things in heaven and on earth exist for His glory, honor, and praise (Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 1:16), and one day, The Lamb that sits upon the throne will return to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). Our most successful preparation on this earth is only temporary. Christ is the One who sustains and enables us to do all we do on the homestead, all to His glory. And that truth brings great contentment and rest.
Some years, our gardens don't produce much. This is our first year successfully raising our own meat! Some years, we have an abundance of eggs, other years, we are relegated to shamefully walking the refrigerated section of the grocery store to buy commercially raised eggs, AND then go buy feed for our chickens who aren't laying. No one ever said homesteading was easy. But the end result, whether our successes on the land, or our capacity to purchase from other sources all flows back to the loving kindness of God and His provision for us.
Today, that looks like putting our own meat in the freezer, and canning up some beef stew. Some days, it's just being grateful for the resources available to us when our homesteading life goes pear-shaped.
"but whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." -1 Corinthians 10:31