My favorite painting is by Winslow Homer. It’s called “Veteran in a New Field” and it depicts a Union soldier just returning to his farm from the Civil War. Homer painted it just a few months after the war ended. Hundreds of thousands of men were returning home. How would they adjust given the things they’d just been through? Would it be possible to go back to life as usual? Would they be able to make a go of it or would they give up like so many people do when life shows itself to be brutal and unfair?
This particular soldier drops his uniform, canteen and backpack and immediately picks up a scythe, an old-school cutting tool, and begins mowing his overgrown field that stretches as far as the eye can see – by hand. I find it striking that although most farmers would have used a more efficient cradle to mow a field of that size, this man uses a simple hand tool. Though the task may seem daunting, like starting a new life after a war, the veteran removes his coat, picks up the scythe and carries on.
This painting reminds me of myself and the straightforward, uncomplicated approach to ministry I’ve adopted that says when life and ministry becomes knotty, messy and overgrown, it’s the main and plain truths and tools that God puts in our hands that gets the job done best. I first heard John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard use this term referring to Scripture. But I’ve broadened its use and embraced it as my personal credo.
I’m that veteran in the field with scythe in hand – basic, proven, reliable tools and practices of ministry that have been passed on to me by other veterans that have worked the field before me. This is how I get things done when things get tough. This is how I’ve been able to last. This is how I’ve managed to stay fresh and not get worn down by the wear and tear of ministry. This is what I want to pass on to others serving in the field. This is what I hope The Main & Plain will be about. I hope you’ll visit this page often and find it practical and helpful, and if you do that you’ll let others know about it as well. You can contact me with your questions or comments at: [email protected]