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Life on the family farm under an open heaven: That’s stupid

Tom Heck for Progressive Dairy Published on 11 September 2019

Sometimes farm kids look at things totally different than other people do. Such is the case in what happened many years ago in my Sunday school classroom when I was a small child.

My Sunday school teacher, who was a nice lady and lived in town, opened the class on this particular day by reading a parable of Jesus from Luke 12:16-21 (KJV):



“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

I sat there stunned as my teacher read this; this was the first time in my life I had heard this parable. Since I was a farm boy, and this was talking about farming, it had 100 percent of my attention. I was absolutely amazed at what the teacher read. When she got done reading, she turned to the class and, in a real nice voice, said, “What do you think of that?” I normally didn’t speak up in class at all, but that day I was so captivated I just blurted out, “That’s stupid.” The teacher was horrified at my response. Her teacher training had not prepared her for this. She was silent for a while, not knowing what to do. Finally, she managed to say, “Why do you say that?”

I quickly responded, “A good farmer doesn’t tear down his good barns that are producing profitably already; he keeps them producing and builds bigger barns to produce even more. This farmer tore down his good barns. That’s stupid.” The teacher stood in front of the class totally dumbfounded, not knowing how to respond. Finally, after a while, the teacher said, “Let’s turn to our lesson and see what it says.” From there she went on, not asking the class any more questions. She didn’t want to get into any more predicaments that day.

Looking back on it, there certainly was some truth in what I said, and I’m sure the Lord must have smiled that day when He heard what a young farm boy said in response to His parable. I do admit now that I certainly missed the point of it that day, but at least I was honest. Being truthful goes a long ways with God.

The Lord didn’t condemn the man for wanting to build bigger barns; He condemned him for living 100 percent for himself in this life. He was very rich on this earth, but he was totally bankrupt toward God. And God didn’t say he was stupid; He said he was a fool, which is far worse. How can a man be rich toward God, you ask? The scriptures tell us in Matthew 6:33 (KJV), “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” It starts by having a personal relationship with the Lord, and then living every day fully for Him. And then He goes on to give an amazing promise: “All things that you need will be added unto you.” That includes a bigger barn if you need it.


I have a nice, small, old barn, and I’m not planning on building a bigger barn. A lot of farmers are building much bigger barns these days, and that’s their choice. I hope they’re not building them just for self; I hope they’re also rich toward God. Someday, like the rich farmer in the Bible, we will all stand before God and give an accounting. My heart’s desire is to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” I certainly don’t want to hear Him say, “Thou fool.” end mark

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a 35-cow dairy farm in Wisconsin. Email Tom Heck or order his book at Tom Heck.