I grew up on a farm right outside of a tiny town of 700 people in Nebraska. Every summer my family would designate a day to freeze corn, and oh what a looooong, messy, tiresome and exciting day that was! My mom and dad would leave the house around 5 am and come back with an entire truck bed full of ears of sweet corn needing to be shucked, boiled, shaved off the cob, measured out by the cup, and flatted into Ziploc bags to be frozen as our years supply of corn.
My brothers, sister, grandparents and I would join my parents as soon as they returned with the corn and spend the remainder of the seemingly endless morning shucking every single golden yellow ear.
It was a little bit miserable. It was always horribly hot, my dad would play what seemed like the worst old country music from his truck, and pulling back the shucks and pulling off the silk (the white “hairy stuff” at the top of the ear) left me a sticky mess which attracted flies. It seemed to cling to everything, so cleaning it from each ear of corn felt like a time-suck and a nuisance. Sometimes I’d give up and put a still partially “hairy” ear in the clean tub hoping the water would just boil it off.
Meanwhile, by my side, my grandpa sat with a toothbrush in hand lovingly and meticulously brushing off each ear of corn so as to remove all the silk. His old toothbrushes were as much a part of those summer days as the ears of corn in the truck. We kept them in a drawer in our kitchen year-round for the sole purpose of use that one day out of every year.
Toothbrush in hand, he carefully cleaned each ear and moved on to the next – never complaining about the time it took or the endless pile of corn left to go. In fact, I distinctly remember him being absolutely joyful on those days, patiently handling and admiring the fruit of his labor. If anything kept me from stomping away from the task before us, it was my admiration, respect for, and trust in him.
I can see now how this is an example of something bigger, how all too often we are inpatient with the process that growth and harvest require. Growth can feel too sticky, hot and messy, and we don’t realize that we’re in the middle of the harvest, right now.
Meanwhile, God is joyfully and meticulously forming us. It might take him a spiritual toothbrush to do so, but just like my grandpa I imagine him tirelessly brushing away the silk no matter how hard I try to cling to it. No matter how worn that toothbrush gets, he brushes away.
I have zero doubt in my mind my grandpa’s ears of corn were the cleanest and most beautiful of the harvest because of his love and patience. I’m so grateful to know that I have a loving Father in Heaven who will patiently form me into a better “crop.” And in the end, I’m sure I’ll look back and be so grateful for every seemingly unimportant string of silk he carefully freed me from.