“If you build it…He will come” whispers the tagline from the 1989 movie about a baseball field carved out of a cornfield in Iowa, USA. The main character, played by Kevin Costner, risked all he had to follow his dream, and trust the quiet voice that urged him to do it. He built it…and He came. They all came. Funny what a field can do!
Faith without deeds is useless… Faith not accompanied by action is dead (James 2).
Sharp southerly gusts struggle to dry my tears as I stand weeping in front of my mother’s grave buried 22 years ago. It’s May 8, 2017, 6 days shy of Mother’s Day. Fitting that a true Proverbs 31 woman should have only one verse on her headstone. Proverbs 31 v 16. Mum and Dad chose it as their verse as both were born on the 16th day of the month. Divine appointment. Divine application. Divine destiny.
Field of Dreams. Mum dared to hope. The quiet voice had told her “That’s your husband” of the new young clergyman at her church in her hometown, Feilding, New Zealand. She had found treasure, and was willing to give up all she had and hoped for to fulfill her dream, even when it looked like nothing was going to happen. This attitude birthed earlier when a chronic rheumatoid arthritis curve ball as a teenager led her to tell God…”I am willing to be a cripple, as long as I can serve you”. Amongst a praying community in Feilding, she was completely healed. Then, out of left field…it happened… and they were married. In Feilding. It was him or nobody. Funny what ‘fielding’ can do!
Proverbs 31 v 16 says “She considers a field, and buys it. Out of her earnings she plants a vineyard”. Every year, God shows me more ways in which this verse was written for my mother. And for all of us. My mother knew about fields. At age 5, suffering from scarlet fever, she felt surrounded by a tunnel of light and experienced waves of comfort, love and peace washing over her. She tried to turn to her mother to ask if she could see and feel it too. Just like the baseball players in the movie. At age 18, she had an afterlife experience while almost dying from severe asthma. She saw heaven… she walked through beautiful flower filled fields… and was told it was not her time yet. It happened to her again when her heart stopped for 3 minutes during a gall bladder operation 20 years later. Same result. She was told to “Go the distance”. By then she had born 4 children to her husband. She chose her field, and out of her earnings, planted a vineyard. The 4 children her fruit. Simple explanation of Proverbs 31 v 16…. surely? But there’s more.
Mum went all in for her marriage, her family, and her unquenchable love for her Maker. After all, she had met Him in spirit thrice! Three strikes and you’re out right?! To consider something, first you have to know what is of value and what is not. Time spent on research, applied learning and prudent judgement are required to make a wise choice. Especially if you sacrifice all for it. Mum wisely chose her spiritual field… my Dad and his ministry.
Proverbs 4 v 3 encourages “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” How? Proverbs 9 v 10 advises “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
What are spiritual earnings? How do you earn, save and spend them? Dictionaries tell us that “to earn” is to be entitled to something as a reward for labour or merit. Scripture tells us Faith gleans righteousness as a heavenly reward, and Faith without works is dead. The last verse of Proverbs 31 confirms this, “Give her the reward she has earned, let her works bring praise at the city gate” (v 31). And one verse earlier (v 30),”…. but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. That fear must be why she speaks with wisdom (v 26), is not idle and is praised by her husband and children (v 27 & 28).
Her works are her children… a blessed return on the faithful investment of her hard work, unwavering faith, and unconditional love. What a heritage! No pressure on the kids then!
“If you build it… He will come”. In the movie, the main character wanted to meet his deceased father, and the field was the catalyst. He had to “Go the distance” to do it. The impossible happened. They played catch together.
Mum secured her field, planted a vineyard, and worked hard to ensure her spiritual Father would be present in the fruit and works of her vineyard. And He came… to all 4 of us. He still dwells within all. We all have our own fields and vineyards now. What have we learned?
In Matthew 13 v 44-45, Jesus told us “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field”. That man is either incredibly stupid, or incredibly wise. If he found it, why didn’t he just keep it? Finders keepers right? Why did he hide it again and sell all he had to buy the field he found the treasure in?
It is because you cannot truly own something until you have given up everything for it. I remember the poster on my wall as a teenager which said ” If you love something, let it go. If it returns to you, it is yours forever. If it doesn’t, it never was”. All in. All in for the All in All.
To have full ownership of the treasure, the man in the proverb had to sell all he had to buy the field. Then it, and the treasure within, would be his forever, and nobody could legally claim otherwise. Funny things fields. Fallow or fertile… you choose. The movie character Moonlight Graham, played by Burt Lancaster, faced such a choice. He gave up the chance to be a baseball star to be a doctor…and saved lives. And eyes were opened….”Where did those baseball players come from?”
“Build it… and He will come”. What are we building? Something of value that will last and sustain others, or a monument to ourselves that will perish?
Let’s ask somebody who knows. The world’s most famous tent-maker, Paul, yields some insight and twilight on this aspect. “So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building”. (1 Corinthians 3 v 7-9)
So you don’t need to dream. This is REAL. Be a field for God. He has already arrived, and He wants to build in you and on you and through you. Just like He did with my Mum.
And what of the field Mum bought? No ordinary field. Still fertile. My Dad is good soil where the seed grew deep. Himself offered up to God as an infant by a believing mother unable to feed him as a baby. Nana gave her treasure to God, and in return raised a spiritual giant, rich with Gods words that feed many. But especially the soul of his wife. That’s how fields work… they reap what is sown in them. Nana and Grandad both died in 1989 (release year of Field of Dreams). Frugal, faithful people who loved gardening.
Have you found your treasure? What have you done with it? Plough it into your field. Build on it. Yield to be a good field. He’s already here cheering you on. He will chase you… until you catch Him. He loves playing catch. That’s what fields are for. Funny what the right field can do for you!
Son of Cecil & Barbara Marshall. Brother of Alison, Cathie and Andrew.