By Lynn Jones
A few years ago, I made several long trips across this country with Edwin Way Teale. I didn’t do it in person, but I did it with him in four books that he wrote. Teale was a naturalist, who, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, along with his wife Nellie, made four journeys across our country during the four seasons of the year. Then, he wrote the accounts of these trips in four books that celebrated the four seasons.
Traveling alongside Edwin Teale was an exciting journey. Not only was Teale a vast repository of information about the land, plants, and animals of this country, but along the way he would pick up and pass on bits of folk wisdom. One year as he and his wife made their way through Montana, he picked up a saying that he heard. In the range country of Montana, there sometimes comes a time in spring when the winter hay is gone, and the new grass has not arrived. In this period between hay and grass, the cattle are hard-pressed for food. “Similarly,” he wrote, “a man in difficulties is described as being ‘between hay and grass.’”
I can remember such days on the farm. The hay had about run out, and the grass was not quite big enough to provide much food for the cows. You’re caught between hay and grass.
Such moments come in life when one door closes, and another door has not yet opened. It happened to Paul and his companions on the second missionary journey when they arrived in Troas. God had closed the doors into Asia and into Bithynia, but He had not yet opened the door into Macedonia. Paul and his fellow travelers had to settle down in Troas and wait until another door opened.
Waiting is hard on us. I heard about a man who went to his first play. He watched the first act and then got up and left. A friend saw him leave, and the next day when the friend saw him, he asked, “Why did you leave the play after the first act?” The man replied, “Well, on the program it said that the second act takes place three days later.”
Patience has never been our strong suit, but when you’re caught between hay and grass, patience and faith are necessary. We’re about two weeks away from the average date of our last frost. It won’t be long before the grass that is brown and dormant will be turning green and growing.
If you’re caught between hay and grass in your life, don’t give up. After the stillness of that evening in Troas, there came the excitement of the Macedonian vision and planting the gospel for the first time on the continent of Europe. You never can tell when God is going to open an exciting new door for you!
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.