What gets your attention? Where are you looking?
I was going through some family papers and ran across this article that my grandmother wrote. ‘Mama Jo’ as the family called her was creative in many ways however I did not know that she was a writer. She has been in Heaven since 2001. I believe she wrote this piece in 1978; it is still as relevant today. I am sure she would find it humorous that she is now published on a blog and shared on social media 40 years after she wrote this. Enjoy. Below is her original writing with no edits.
What Get My Attention
Drilling wheat was considered an easy task. The ground had been carefully prepared, the field was big, the furrows were long, and the tractor could run smoothly in fifth gear.
Henry, my husband, had given careful instructions, and since this was my first experience in farming, he was always close by if I needed help. It was he who shouldered the fifty-pound bags of seed wheat necessary to refill the drill and who assumed the responsibility of maintenance and refueling the tractor.
It was a beautiful September day. The sun was warm, and something very unusual for the panhandle of Texas, there was no breeze. When I became adjusted to operating the tractor and became comfortable with the speed, I relaxed, looked around, and was thoroughly enjoying myself. Billowed clouds were in constant change; graceful, mammoth hawks swooped low in pursuit of insects and field mice. As an artist, I studied the greyish-blue sky at the horizon in contrast to the pure blue above. It wasn’t long, however, until I began to notice something else.
Across the field were large pieces of rock and concrete, scattered with fertilizer by trucks from the cattle feed yards. They had been either overlooked or ignored during the previous plowing.
Knowing that hard debris as this can cause extensive damage to expensive equipment, and knowing that repairs are costly in both time and money, I had the feeling that anything worth doing was worth doing right.
When I would see a rock or broken piece of concrete anywhere in the field, I would stop the tractor, leave the cab, descend the ladder, and walk the distance in the newly-plowed ground to retrieve the object. After placing the debris into the cab, I would again climb the ladder, enter the cab, and start the tractor in motion again. Frequently, I would go a short distance and repeat the procedure.
The day became hotter; I grew weary, but time and time again I repeated this pattern. Soon I was physically exhausted. I became angry. I was behind schedule; the distance between Henry and myself was widening; I was wasting valuable time and expensive fuel.
“Lord, there has to be an easier way,” I prayed. Thoughts began to come, very rapid and very firm.
My first responsibility was to follow instructions and to do the work at hand. I was to keep my eyes on the furrow I was on and not across the open field. If I saw a rock or concrete ahead, I should make a quick evaluation for the potential for damage, and then, only then, was I to stop the tractor, walk the necessary few steps, and remove the object.
The instructions were so simple. Other thoughts followed.
How similar this was to my daily life.
Instead of staying on course, staying close to Christ, and following His instructions, I had wasted precious minutes, sometimes hours anticipating problems and trying to solve them before they arrived. Instead of relaxing and enjoying each moment as it comes, my energy had been diffused by fret and worry.
How much easier and more beautiful my life will be, Lord, when I learn to stay close to You and to follow Your instructions; when I learn to take one step at a time while enjoying the good and beautiful that surrounds me. And, when the rocky times come, Lord, with a knowledge of Your Presence, I will be able to see clearly and to discern what is ? or what is not important, and deal with it then.
Deep in my heart, Father, I know that what gets my attention gets me. Thank you for teaching me this lesson. I will keep my eyes on You.
Betty Jo Solomon (1926-2001)
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