SAM_2442Great wealth comes from mining. Australia has benefited greatly from its recent mining boom, making us one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Many of Australia’s cities and towns exist because of mining and many of supportive communities have grown as a result. We saw this dramatically a few years ago when the ‘Beaconsfield Mine Disaster’ happened just a few minutes up the road from where our church is and how it affected our community. Of course, without mining, we could not have our precious technology which depend upon the silicon, copper, bauxite, neodymium, gold, and silver being mined. The world owes a lot to mining. Mining is a primary industry. So is farming. But farming has one massive advantage over mining. And curiously enough, I’ve noticed that the farming versus mining disparity not only applies to primary industries but even more aptly to our relationships.  

Legana Apple OrchardWhen I was growing up, nearly all of my uncles (with the exception of just one of the six), was a farmer. Dairy, beef, crops, sheep, and bees were their livelihoods. The thing about farmers is that they are dependent on sustaining their livelihoods. Miners, on the other hand, cannot sustain their supply of what they mine. Once it’s mined, it’s gone

If you drive around Tasmania you’ll see what appear to be roadside forests. But upon closer inspection, there’s something a little odd about these roadside forests: all the trees are in straight rows. As any local can tell you, there’s a reason for that. These aren’t really forests. They’re plantations. Many of them were planted ten or fifteen years ago, some even sooner. Some harvests in life take that long.

Let me jump straight to my concluding point. If we ‘mine’ those around us – especially those closest to us – we are treating them as if they are expendable, something to be tossed aside when we’re finished with them. But if we farm our relationships, we grow them and they are not only enlarged they are sustained. This means: the one who loves best loves the most for the longest. The husband who treats his wife as an object is not farming. He is mining. And because of his neglect he is the one who is depriving himself of some of the richest blessings this life offers.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15

The very first wedding took place in a garden. The symbolism is rich. The original picture takes place in an environment where there has been planning, planting, cultivation, tending, watering and feeding. Marriage began in a garden and, in many respects, is a garden. In the Song of Solomon the love between a husband and his wife is described as being like the relationship between a gardener and a garden.

On the Tasmanian Overland TrackAwake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.
Song of Solomon 4:16

Farming involves tending, sowing, nurturing, watering, and feeding. To reap a harvest of intimacy you must sow trust and fertilise it with consistency and mulch it with understanding and transparency. This type of farming produces bountiful harvests. This is the essence of being faithful in marriage. The boy who learns to go off partying with his mates looking to ‘pick up’ a girl for a cheap thrill is learning to treat women as objects to be be ‘mined’. No woman deserves to be treated like this! This is why pornography is so insidiously evil and grossly unjust! But the boy who is taught that women are a treasure to be prized, guarded, and respected is learning how to farm for the day when his future love is in his life so that he will reap a life-time-together harvest. This is why “dating” (where there is no realistic expectation that it will lead to marriage) is not really a Biblical concept. Rather, the Biblical prescription seems to be friendship within community leading to a courtship with the permission of relevant authorities within that community (particularly parental approval). Parents play a key role in helping their children to relationally ‘farm’ their love for another.



Walking the Freycinet TrackOur relationship with God though, has parallels with both mining and farming. Some people inflect a deprived spiritual childhood upon themselves by only ever raking the surface of a relationship with God. If only they would dig like a miner! The treasures they would find! Raking, at best, can summon leaves, twigs, and dirt. But digging can be the means by which one discovers gold, gems, precious metals, and even life-sustaining water. 

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you…if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
Proverb 2:1, 4

The only difference between natural and supernatural mining is that the metals and gems of earth are finite and limited, where as the treasures to found in a relationship with Christ are unlimited and infinite or to use the language of The Mine, they are unsearchable

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Romans 11:33

to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:8b

And our relationship with God is also a farming one. He is the Gardener who plans, plants, tends, prunes, waters, feeds and harvests. 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:1-2

The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard

The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard. This is yet another example of the incredible riches that are often ours for the taking but yet go unnoticed and ignored.

But God is also a limitlessly fertile field into whom we can sow our time, talent and treasure. 

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

In one sense, our devotion to God by Scripture reading, study, and memorisation, is mining our relationship with God while our good deeds including prayer, worship, witnessing, serving the Body of Christ, is farming our relationship with God. Australia’s wealth has been based on farming and mining. Even with all the high-tech advances in the global economy, people are always going to what mining and farming give us. While ‘mining’ has no place in our relationships with each other, especially for those who are married, it can and should share the basis of our relationship with God along with ‘farming’. After you finish reading these few brief thoughts, I invite you to begin ‘mining’ your relationship with God through the reading of Scripture and to make a commitment to spiritually ‘farm’ your relationship with God as well by sowing good deeds in the Name of Christ.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully …  ¶ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Second Corinthians 9:6, 10

Your spiritual mining-rights entitlements and harvest awaits.