At a recent gathering of the morning ‘coffee drinkers’ at Fitch’s Store, Dean Cook, retired Naval Officer and Free Methodist Pastor, brought a new witticism into the conversation. Although I am a mountain boy from Eastern Kentucky and know many of the sayings from rural America, it was no so with this one. “Don’t stop plowing to chase mice” was a completely new saying to me. I had to cogitate on that one. After considerable thought, I share with you my ruminations.
In a bygone day, most plowing was done with horses, oxen, or, in more recent years, tractors. A breaking or turning plow was pulled through the soil, turning the soil over. It was not unusual to turn over a nest of field mice. Mice would scatter in every direction. With a nearly automatic reaction, the plowman could be distracted and turn to watch the chaotic scramble. The end result was a crooked furrow that could ‘throw off’ the rest of the furrows in the field. Thus, the witticism – “Don’t stop plowing to chase mice.”
It is not difficult to find a life lesson in this saying. Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). He knew a plowman who looked back caused his furrow to be crooked. Likewise, if we look back, our path will wander, and we may miss God’s will for our life. Obviously, crisis events like those mentioned in Luke (9:59-61), such as major family issues, are great distractions. But small things, like mice to the plowman, can interfere with a believer’s ability to stay clearly focused on the goal Christ has set before them. “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to eternal life” (Matthew 7:14) applies here. Crooked and wandering furrows just won’t do.
Hear the wisdom of Solomon: “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor” (Ecclesiastes 10:1, ESV). Solomon also calls to our attention that it is the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15). This ought to serve as a wise counsel to you and me. It is the little things in life that often cause great damage. In our church life it may be type of music, style of worship, length of service, perceived slights, etc. In our personal lives, it may be minor family disagreements, petty jealousies, pride, tight finances, busyness, obnoxious co-workers, etc.
Be resolved to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and to “stay the course” in following him to the end. Don’t let distractions cause you to plow crooked furrows.
Don’t Stop Plowing To Chase Mice
~ Brother Roy