Skip to main content

You can have it, part 3: Give me rye or give me death

Let's glue together parts 1 and 2 of this series.

In the movie Taken, Liam Neeson utters these iconic words:

"I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career."

I like the idea of living a life so rich that you can't describe it to anyone who has not lived it. You get it, God gets it, and no one else is in on the joke. I have lived such a life, and I am just getting started. I hope you can say the same.

I will not make a list of my "very particular set of skills" here, but I have one, and it is long and eclectic. Oddly so. But God knows what he is doing, and in my particular case, they were all very necessary for what he gifts me in life.

One of my weird experiences is that I know what it is like to plant and harvest rye by hand. If I had to guess, I'd confidently say less than 10,000 people in the United States have done this, and maybe less than 1,000. And why would they? As my neighbor said when he saw my field, "why on earth would you do this? You don't have anything better to spend your time and money on?" But I have different reasons than they do, and they have made all the difference.

Because we all have different perspectives, we perceive and value different things even in the same experiences. The best example of this principle is analyzing the varied response of individuals to the same demonstrations of Jesus during his mortal ministry.

I got something very different out of my rye time than the other 3 or so people in the US who might be crazy enough to try it.

One of the things I got out of the experience was that you plant 1-1.5 bushels per acre, but you can harvest 70-80. I want you to think about that.

What would it take to convince any significant segment of our population to spend their free time planting and harvesting rye using only hand tools? And yet, what on earth can anyone do with all our modern technology and cheap oil to reliably yield a 70 fold return on investment, with perhaps one month a year of work?

My neighbor thought I was crazy for planting rye. Am I the crazy one? What have we sold for all our modern affluence? What did we get in return?

Our societal perspectives on life could not be more incorrect. If we put our best minds and all our money at work to develop a training process that yields people are as irrational and miserable as possible, we would fail to produce people as horrifically oriented as the majority is today.

How much of the aimless misery we see today is due to a crisis of meaning? And why wouldn't people have a crises of meaning? What exactly does any normal person have in their lives that has any meaning at all? What exactly separates them from an equally heavy bag of fertilizer? I am not being hyperbolic. Do they know what joy is? Have they ever sacrificed anything for a greater cause? Do they have any purpose? Do they have any plan? Have they developed any ability to cope with uncertainty or sorrow or pain? What exactly in their lives is good, true, or beautiful?

We have traded so much for so little.

As I walk through the valley of death here on earth, I collect up litmus tests of character that I never would have guessed existed because they are simple, but say so much. There are collections of these, one of which is a set of tests to see how much a person's heart and mind is prepared for Zion.

One of those tests is:

If today God gave you the choice to trade every worldly possession and convenience for a life of subsistence agriculture, would you take it, and how happy would you be in taking it?

[Right now, some of you are quaking in your boots at consideration of this possibility, and others are finding things to get offended at so they can dismiss out of hand what I've said without feeling cognitive dissonance. You failed the test.]

It will shock some to hear, but I know of a few people who answer with a resounding yes, and they would be ecstatic about it. And these are not city slicker types who have never pooped on the ground or slept in the rain. They know what both options entail. They have a very particular set of skills they have acquired over an abundant life. They are better able to "discern both good and evil" "by reason of [the] use" of "their senses," exercised over time (Hebrews 5:14).

Well, I've spent far too much time writing this. I hope it helps someone, somewhere wake up and smell the rye. [1]

[1] - Why rye? Rye provides the cereal crop benefit of wheat but does not require nearly as much water. It can be grown in cold, desert areas like where I live with no need to irrigate.