It’s hay baling season here in the Ozarks, and after 672 straight days of rain (a little hyperbole perhaps) the farmers are excited about getting out and getting that first cut in. As I was driving through Highlandville I looked across at a hay field that had been recently cut and saw a small John Deere tractor off to the side, and I thought to myself, “There’s no way that little tractor cut that giant field.” Which reminded me of an illustration I heard years ago in a sermon, which I’ll get to shortly.
If I was a farmer, I would buy the biggest tractor I could afford. Even mowing my own little 1/3 acre yard I’ve got a rider with a 48″ cut. I used to have a 42″. Now I wonder how I ever finished the job with 42″ blades! Bigger is better, right?
One day a pastor was talking to a farmer and noticed that he had a large tractor as well as a small tractor that had roughly the same kind of attachment on the back. He asked the farmer what was the use of the smaller tractor when the larger one would clearly make short work of the fields. The farmer responded that not all of his fields were perfect rectangles, and while the large tractor was great for out in the open spaces, he needed the little tractor to get into odd shapes and the corners. Without the little tractor, a lot of his land would be wasted and unfruitful.
Not many of us are big tractors. There are only so many spots open for large ministries, large pastors, and large personalities. Most of us look at the famous evangelists, missionaries, and preachers and feel like the little tractor sitting next to the big tractor. But God’s fields aren’t perfect little rectangles, and an awful lot of odd shapes and corners would sit fallow if it weren’t for the little tractors. Every believer is a worker in God’s fields, but the fields sometimes look like a small company with no other believers, or a dysfunctional family, or some other odd little patch of ground that’s under the curse. God calls those places the highways and hedges, and His eye is on them.
I realize that I’m just a little tractor. I once thought I could be a great preacher. Some of my church members tell me that I am, on occasion. But you wouldn’t know it judging by the crowds. And I’m not whining or complaining. I know God has me where he has me for a reason, and it’s a reason that fits His plan for my life. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that he would use me at all that being a little tractor feels like the greatest privilege of my life. When you don’t mind being a little tractor, you don’t envy the big tractors.
I would venture to say that most of the servants of God that I know are little tractors. They haven’t seen hundreds of thousands come to know Christ. But they have seen some. They haven’t been quoted in the news or been asked to write for the Times, but they have been the one present at the hospital, present at the graveside, present at the crisis, and present at the altar. If they hadn’t been there, there would have been no salt and no light. Heaven is going to be full of people thrilled to see the small tractor that made a difference in their little corner of the world.
So don’t despite small service. Don’t despise the ministry God has given to you. Go out and mow your little odd shape of the world, and be satisfied.