When we moved onto our farm almost 4 years ago, we were asked by the previous owner if we would consider keeping the tenant who occupied the apartment above our garage when we took over the farm. Not wanting to jump into anything too abruptly, we prayerfully considered the request. And as follow up, I made arrangements to meet with this woman and discern how the Lord would lead our conversation. It was our intent to seek God on this matter and hear what He had to say and whether is was His desire for her to stay or go.
Upon meeting with this tenant, she was very nice to point out the number of projects she had helped with in improving the farm; the rooms she painted, the animal areas she had fenced, and many other countless projects the current owner and she used throughout the farm. But, when we finally sat down to have a cup of iced tea together, the Lord opened my eyes, rather my ears, to the way she was talking about the farm. In our conversation I realized this tenant did not see herself as just a person who was renting the land and using it for the benefit of the owner AND herself. No, she spoke in a manner that revealed she felt ownership in all she had done on the farm which therefore earned her the right to say what would be done with the farm in the future. In her mind, if she was to stay on as a tenant, she had projects and plans that needed to be implemented as the days, months, and years progressed.
This past week as I read through Mark 12 and the parable of the wicked vinedressers, I had a flashback to my conversation with this former tenant of our farm. The story Jesus told of these tenants really hit home with me about how too we who are caretakers of all which God has given us, tend to look at those gifts, talents, jobs, land, homes, etc. and think we can plan and scheme as to how to use them to our benefit and in ways we see most fit for their expansion. As the new owner of our farm, the last thing my husband and I were willing to relinquish after putting a very large amount of our savings down was the planning out of future dreams on our farm and allotted uses of its resources. As the new owners we knew that our vision would be different for our farm than that the previous owners and tenants – they were our dream, inspired by God, and they were built on a foundation of hard work and diligent savings which we were willing to risk for the materialization of that dream.
We must realize when we look at all those things which the Lord has intrusted to us as the tenants of His “vineyard”, the price He payed in laying its foundation. This being Easter week, we are reminded of the terrible price Jesus paid on the cross, the foundation for the salvation of mankind and the ability for all who trust in the name of Jesus and believe on Him in faith to enter into the most wonderful eternity which God has prepared for those who love Him. Trying to tell God how His vineyard should look from our earthly perspective, what heaven should include and reserve for us as we toil away each and every day for His glory, how the parameters for our entrance into eternity should be set, or why we think the things happening in our lives should be changed to better fit the resources we have been given, is not living in the manner of a tenant, but rather a wicked vinedresser. These people in the parable disregarded the owner who had paid the price for the land and also who had the right to do what he desired there, including asking of His tenants what was due back to Him in rent.
As you may have guessed, we did not take in the tenant who had requested to stay with us when we purchased our farm. She had some very choice words for me when I finally came back to her and asked that she consider what God for her outside our farm. I also told her that I was praying for the ease of her transition. Unfortunately, the choice and very ungodly words she used in response to our decision all the more confirmed to us what the Lord had already shown me was in her heart.
With today being the day we remember the cross and the price Jesus paid upon it for our sin and separation from Him, remember who the vineyard owner is and how the ability to live within the grounds our Lord has paid the price for, does not grant ownership to the land. Live for Him each day, give back to Him what He asks, use the resources He has given you for His glory...it is the least you and I can do to payback Jesus for all He has done for us.