Pipes are for smokin’ not growin’.
That might seem like a funny line for a cowboy who never smoked a pipe or considered doing so. Yet, it is a statement we were reminded of last week under what would initially appear to be quite unrelated circumstances.
As we were driving down the highway on the way to work, we noticed three farmers with heads bowed down glaring at the ground as side by side they were walking the rows in a recently planted grain field. We knew the reason instantly. Somebody lost something, and they had joined forces in trying to find it.
We’ve seen farmers in similar stances checking to see if recently planted crops are peaking through the top soil, but we just know these men were in search of the lost.
What was lost we have no clue, and whether they found it, we know not. However, having been in that predicament many times, there wasn’t any doubt of the objective.
Dad was a pipe smoker and was recognized by acquaintances as such. He always had half a dozen or more pipes stowed around home or in the truck. But, there was one that became a favorite and was clamped between his teeth most often. When a smoke was finished, he’d put the pipe in his shirt or pants pocket.
Frequently it seems, the pipe would fall out somewhere on the farm. This happened so often that it became a common joke among family and friends that the pipes would start growing before long because he’d planted so many.
Once realization came that his pipe was missing, all work came to a standstill, and everybody started searching for the pipe. Sometimes we’d find the lost treasure, but if not, he’d quickly have a replacement. None of the lost pipes ever did reproduce.
Of all the things we’ve lost, the one that haunts us the most, and the thing we still get the most flack for, occurred nearly four decades ago. We’d just been married a few months, and believe it or not, we lost our wedding ring right off our finger while we were feeding the horses with the tractor at night after college classes. We never did find it.
Most farmers have lost tools, gas tank caps, gloves, what-not in their fields at one time or another. With considerable effort, the items are occasionally recovered, and they’ve even been known to show up many years later. It is always a time of jubilation when the lost is found, regardless of how little economic value it really has.
That reminds us of Luke 15:9: “Rejoice with me for I found the piece I lost.” Elation comes in Micah 4:9: “Celebrate with me. I found my lost coin. That’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.” Best news is Luke 15:18: “What you lost in Jerusalem will be found in Babylon. God will give you new life again.”