Saturday, June 10, 2006

Field of Schemes

I overheard a farmer yesterday talking about this year's corn crop. Apparently the USDA is forecasting that 8 million fewer bushels of corn will be harvested this year than last. The guy was distressed. He thought he'd come out ahead by taking a government payout instead of growing a little corn, but with the price of corn pushed higher due to a smaller supply, he bargained wrong.

Ah, yes, Robert Burns, you were right: The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft DO go awry.

Blowing by some corn fields on my way out of town, I began thinking about some of my own 'best laid schemes'. Many, of course, did go terribly awry. I guess we've all experienced that at some point though, haven't we? Relationships are a gamble and sometimes the house wins. Money is a cruel master and most always calls your bluff. Dreams are risky bets and seem to cash out only the persistent... or the lucky.

Or do they?

I love the story of Joseph. (In Genesis. In the Bible.) The guy was a dreamer. He was also his father's favorite son. His brothers (understandably) resented that display of favoritism, so they did what any of us would do - they came up with a scheme to sell Joseph to a caravan of gypsies and tell their father a wild animal must have eaten him. The scheme worked. Joseph was not a "lucky" guy.

But he was an incurable dreamer in for a few rollercoaster years. He went from being the top aide of an Egyptian government official to a top prisoner in the king's pokey. (All because Joseph's boss had a scheming, cheating wife who wouldn't leave him alone.) And just when it seemed like things would look up for Joseph, his world would collapse around him.

But finally, he made it. He ended up the governor of Egypt. Seriously. And wouldn't you know that his scheming, bitter brothers ended up unknowingly petitioning Joseph to bail them out of a famine. Turns out their fields didn't produce enough to see them out of a corn and grain shortage. Thankfully though, God used their nasty scheme (as Joseph later told them), "to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance". (Genesis 45:7)

It's ironic how our fields of dreams often collide with fields of schemes to produce one interesting life. And hey, if you're like my farmer and settled for a payout when you could have been growing corn, don't worry. Robert Burns isn't right all the time. Just look at Joseph.

There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere. - Jane Austen

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