Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
This has been one of my favourites for a number of years now. I like it because it points me back to doing the important regular things. Land work takes daily care, again and again, and the pay off is often delayed. Its this delay that leads me to chase the fantasy of the short cut or the golden bullet. Often, partly because of my high expectations, I end up in long searches or spending too much time chasing things that aren’t going to happen. This proverb reminds me to do the basics, that of working the land that is before me instead of as the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it ‘chasing the wind.’ In a similar vein to my high expectations, when we’re chasing fantasies we’re not dealing with reality. Working the ground before us is the reality in all its messiness–ordering the disorderly.
Often the working of our land means doing the things we should–the responsibilities that have been placed before us; our vocation. They are often less glamorous. But like discipline, working the land means reaping the benefits in due time: abundant food. Food here is as the symbol of receiving the benefit of our labour. We may not receive food for working the land, it might be proficiency or results of a less material nature. So what do you want to be filled with? Abundant food or poverty.
- I just realised today that a similar form of the proverb appears in chapter 12, verse 11. ↩