How am I preparing my field?
That is an interesting question as it relates to my life, and it is an important one.
I got that phrase from a movie. Have you ever seen Facing the Giants?
It’s one of those underdog, feel-good, good-guy-wins type of sports movies. In the movie, there is a two-minute clip that has always stayed with me. It is scene where an older gentleman, Mr. Bridges, comes to pay a visit to Coach Taylor.
Coach Taylor is really beginning to doubt if he is the guy for the school’s football program. The team is not playing well, there are disgruntled parents and booster club members, and the coach is questioning his calling.
Ever been there?
I like the advice Mr. Bridges gives to Coach Taylor.
Take a moment and view this two-minute clip from the movie.
Did you catch what Mr. Bridges said about preparing your field for rain?
God will send the rain when He is ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.
Why is this such an important statement?
Because it is easy to disconnect opportunities that God gives me from the preparing of the field to which He has called me. Meaning, I can often forget the “preparing of the field” because there is so much time between that and the producing of fruit, or opportunities.
God is sovereign and does all things for His ultimate pleasure and glory. But opportunities come and go, like the brief opening and closing of a window, and if I am not ready, I will have missed something that could have been taken advantage of.
Have you ever missed an “open window” opportunity and then kicked yourself that you had the chance and missed it?
Or have you ever gone through an “open window” opportunity and then reflected with thankfulness that God gave you the wherewithal to prepare your field for the coming fruit?
Ittai prepared his own field
I was reading this week in 2 Samuel about the time in David’s life when his son Absalom rebelled against his father and was looking to overthrow his king.
On the day that David flees Jerusalem with his family, he passes by this one named Ittai the Gittite. Ittai is a Philistine, a foreigner and exile now joining himself with David. As David encounters Ittai, he says in verses 19-20:
Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your house. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.
Ittai refuses to go and places his life in David’s hand to defend the true king of Israel.
If that is where the story ended, that would be noble. Here is a warrior who does not have to follow the exiled king, but he does of his own choice.
But the story does not end there.
In chapter 18, David forms his armies into three groups, led by three of his best:
And David sent out the army, one third under the command of Joab, one third under the command of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the command of Ittai the Gittite.
Joab and Abishai are not surprising. They were the sons of one of the sisters of David, had fought with David in prior battles, proved their mettle, and were two of his best.
But Ittai as one of David’s three military leader? And not only that, but Ittai is later described as one of David’s 30 mighty men, one of David’s heroes, as found in 2 Samuel 23.
We do not know much else about Ittai as he fades off the scene rather quickly. What I do see, though, is a man who prepared his fields for rain. There is not much stated about Ittai’s personal life and so I do not want to draw conclusions that are not supported by Scripture.
But Ittai was clearly ready for his leadership opportunity when it arose. It simply did not “just happen.” If you read the text, there are three traits noted about Ittai that illustrate how Ittai prepared his fields for rain.
1. Ittai was committed to the present
Ittai did not show any signs of staying with David for the future honor. Hardly. David was a king fleeing for his life from his own son. The honor was gone. Yet Ittai gives a double oath of his service to David.
As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be. (2 Samuel 15:21)
Ittai prepared himself for future opportunities by being committed to the present. Plowing the fields now is hard work. We cannot look to the fruit of the future without being willing to be committed to the process of the present.
2. Ittai was loyal to his leader, in spite of…
Ittai was a faithful man to what was given to him. There was nothing promised to Ittai, no fame or reward. But he remained a self-sacrificing and loyal servant to David. Ittai’s trustworthiness in the now served to the plowing of the field that brought his rain later on.
It is easy to be loyal to those who are popular or successful. No big effort there. But to be loyal to a wandering king? To a king who was getting stripped of his power and fled from his throne?
Ittai’s loyalty to king David served in the preparing of his fields that brought his rain in the future.
How about you? Would your leadership consider you loyal even when it may not be most advantageous for you?
3. Ittai did not get distracted by the naysayers
I Samuel 16 interjects an interesting story about this guy named Shimei. He was a remaining member of the house of Saul who believed David had unjustly taken the throne.
As David comes to Bahurim, Shimei shouts curses at David, throws rocks at him, and calls him a “man of blood, a worthless man” for becoming the new king.
If I were Ittai, this might have been the point where I would start to get doubts about my allegiance to David. Not only does David not say anything back to Shimei, he does not even allow his men to retaliate.
There have been decisions in my life where, after the decision, I heard some negative feedback and then began to question my decision. That is never a great place to be, and all it does it make you unsteady for any forward progress.
Ittai had not been part of David’s ranks for very long, yet his steady resolve to block out distractions only served to prepare him for what lay ahead.
Commitment to the present. Loyalty to a leader. Undistracted by the naysayers.
These are qualities of Ittai that helped him prepare his field for rain.
What about you? Are you preparing your field for rain or are you kicking at the dirt because nothing is growing in your ground? Have you forgotten that the time between the preparing of the field and the receiving of the rain is long and demands patience and steadfastness?
It is never too late to start preparing your field for future doors that God desires to open for His pleasure.
The question is, will you have properly prepared your field for the rain God brings your way?