Long ago in Germany, a wealthy farmer was making preparations to immigrate to the New World, America. Planning to travel with his large family, he made arrangements to bring them ship-bound to a new farm on the rich, fertile soil of Pennsylvania. He thoughtfully purchased the land, and made careful plans anticipating every detail.
He sent his eldest son ahead with specific instructions to construct the farm buildings according to a detailed drawing the father had prepared. The son’s pride and excitement swelled within his heart as he arrived at the site in Pennsylvania, and surveyed their beautiful future home. He lost no time acquiring the materials and beginning construction.
But as the son began his work, he noticed that a few changes were in order. One change involved the barn. While the drawing called for it to face in a southeasterly direction, he noticed that the terrain would provide much easier construction if it were oriented northward. So he rotated the barn 60° counterclockwise and was able to save several dollars in excavating costs.
Another change involved the positioning of several of the outbuildings. The smokehouse, for example, he moved to the opposite side of the barn, where there was a more level area. This allowed materials to be delivered closer to the construction site, and saved some labor in building the smokehouse, as well as the chicken house.
Another big change involved the design of the barn itself. The son noticed that his father had failed to consider a large hillside where the barn was to be constructed. As he considered this, he thought about how much easier it would be to build the barn on level ground, so he shifted the location approximately 75 yards where the ground was more level. This would certainly make construction much easier.
After many months of building and preparations, finally the farm was near completion, and ready to begin operation. As the big day drew near for his father to arrive from the old country, the son was excited about all of the changes he had made to the farm plan. He had not told his father about any of these, and could hardly wait to see the surprise and joy on his face.
Early in the morning, the father arrived with his children on a horse-drawn wagon. The younger children scurried off exploring the farm, but the eldest son closely watched his father, who slowly dismounted the wagon and begin to look around. You can imagine the surprise on the son’s face as he realized his father – far from being pleased – was very angry.
“What have you done with my plans?” Asked his father. The son began to stammer, trying quickly to recall all of the good reasons he had for his modifications. He started to explain how he had saved money in construction costs, and made the work of building the farm much easier.
The father began to tearfully explain to his son that his changes had greatly devalued the farm. For example, the barn was to face in a southeastern direction because it would have received maximum sunlight throughout the winter. But now, it would not be a place of warmth and health for the animals several months out of the year, and they would be plagued with illness and difficulty. Construction of the barn on the hillside was an intentional plan, the father explained, because the style of the barn was what is known as a “bank barn” deliberately built into a bank to maximize specific uses from either side. It was a tried and true design back in the old country, and many of the merchants were familiar with it in Pennsylvania. Moving the smokehouse and chicken house farther from the residence would prove to be a costly inconvenience, especially since trips to these buildings would be a daily necessity. And so the son, too late, realized that his father knew more than he thought.
Obedience is listening to our Father even when we think we know better. Sometimes God does not stop and explain his reasons. He simply lays out a plan and requires that we follow it. When we take it upon ourselves to make additions, subtractions, and other modifications, we are not improving upon God’s plan, we are not obeying, we are disobeying God.
May we have the faith and courage to simply wait upon the Lord and obey his word to the letter. Our obedience is not tested when we agree with the Bible, but when we disagree. Let’s have the fortitude to follow God even during times like that.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.