God at the County Fair
For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good
works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
I have been surrounded this week by a lot of good works! For the 12th summer in a row, our home for one week in July was at the Clinton County 4-H fair. Some of our families’ favorite memories have happened there. For our oldest son, tomorrow will close his final fair. As I look back over the past 12 county fairs, I can’t help but recognize all the places God has gently touched and abruptly thumped not only his life but the hearts and lives of all the kids and families who are a part of the fair. Sometimes, He touches with the sweet happiness of victory and sometimes, He touches with the sting of disappointment. The one thing that is certain though, He uses those kids and animals and projects to send a very precise message…if we look for it!
In order to get a livestock project ready for the fair, the work begins many months before they tie it up or put it in a pen on the fairgrounds. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of hours a 4-H member spends feeding, training, grooming and walking their animals! I’ve watched year after year as kids have walked into the show ring leading an immaculately groomed steer that weighed 5 to 10 times what they did. I’ve watched kids walk animals they were too short to see over to the wash rack and the show ring with a confidence and pride that is impressive and inspiring. I have seen kids who were too shy to talk to their own shoe-strings, learn to become confident and articulate because a judge was going to gently bombard them with questions that would greatly influence their standing in showmanship competition. I’ve watched kids carefully (and usually without much enthusiasm) prepare their financial statements and records, designed to develop an awareness of real world basic economics. On many occasions, I have stood at the end of a barn to look down the center aisle and watch dozens and dozens of hot, sweaty, tired kids laughing as they worked. Countless times, I have seen kids walk up to a judge and present a project. That project is a representation of time, talent, ability and pride and in the end; it becomes subject to the judgment of one set of eyes.
The “good works God has prepared” are evident at the county fair. Not many of the 4-H members at the fair will go on to have a career in production agriculture, but they will take the messages and lessons with them no matter what path God puts them on. God was at the fair teaching patience, trust, confidence and compassion. He was there teaching the value and blessing of caring for another living being. He was there flooding kids with the Holy Spirit when they needed the right words. He was there when they needed the grace of strength and patience. He was there to teach that people don’t always see “justice and judgment” the same way. He was there molding and forming the character of His children, showing them that the value of hard work, dedication and responsibility doesn’t always come with a purple ribbon and a champion title but if it is done in His honor, the prize is so much greater! God was at the county fair, I hope people saw Him and felt His presence!
A seed to plant: For the next week, wherever you go, make it a special assignment to look for God. What is He showing you, teaching you and reminding you?
Blessings on your day!
8/2/2012 05:41:59 am
I saw you yesterday and talked with you and as I walked away from you I knew today's post was going to be about the fair. I truly felt his presence there...how can you not?!...for all the reasons you mentioned and then some. Thanks again Sheri for another beautiful message!
8/2/2012 05:57:57 am
Had a great time at the fair! It is inspiring to see so many of the talents God has shared with His children on display. I love it!!
8/2/2012 04:07:03 pm
Thanks Sheri, for your reflection today on the 4-H fair. You see so much good at the fair. I remember our own kids entering many things at the fair and all the good things they learned for life. Now I watch my grandchildren learning many lessons in life, both disappointments and success stories. God has a way of teaching us all. Keep up the good work, Sheri!
8/6/2012 05:30:59 am
I don't know you well, but I have a great respect for you. Your children truly imbody the 4-H spirit. This is so well written on how much the kids learn in the final week of the project. It is so hard to find programs like this.
8/11/2012 12:58:52 am
This reflection brought back a lot of memories for me from years ago when my son and daughter participated in the 4H fair. They spent endless hours on their projects and they learned so much. Going in front of the photography judges and explaining the composition of their photographs was definitely a learning experience and one they still remember. While walking through the buildings and checking out the workmanship of others, their minds were already planning for next year's projects especially something new that they had not tried before. This 4H fair is such a great way to showcase our children and their efforts.
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