This is what my cousin replied to the person picking peas next to her, who lamented about looking back and seeing some that they had missed.
Later, when I was writing a fun blog on our time in the country, I had planned on including that quote. But as I typed it, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, and I knew I had to save it for a Pea Patch Wisdom blog. Because, as good as that advice is for picking peas, it is also great advice for living life.
"We don't look ahead." We don't look ahead in the pea patch, because we might see that we have a lot farther to go before our row ends. Like my husband, who was picking with us that morning. We all grabbed our buckets and then started on the first empty row we came across. As our rows came to an end, he looked up and saw for the first time that his row was longer than the rest of ours. This of course was discouraging to him. We had finished our rows, dumped our peas into the bucket and made good progress down our new rows before he finished his first row.
It reminds me of the verse Matthew 6:34 that says, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." God gives us exactly what we need for each day. Just like when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness and He supplied them with manna for each new day. He gives us what we need in order to complete today's tasks. When we look ahead, we often become discouraged, or anxious, or fearful. When we wake up each morning we should have enough faith to know that God will get us through that day. He was there for us yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. We know that tomorrow will bring its own set of troubles, but we also know that when they come, God will be there to provide what we need. So don't focus on what's ahead. Focus on doing your best to live for God today. "We don't look ahead."
"We don't look across." We don't look across in the pea patch, because then we might be tempted to reach across and pick the peas on our friend's row. Those peas are not our business. We are to tend to our own peas. If we start trying to pick everyone's peas, we quickly become exhausted.
Lysa TerKeurst writes "I'm not equipped to handle what she has, both good and bad, and what she has is always a package deal of both. In other words, I've been assigned a load I can handle." Meaning, that sometimes we look across the rows of life and think that maybe someone else has a better deal. But what we don't see is their whole package. We see the beautiful wrapping, and the sparkly bow, and we think we would rather have their lot in life. And we become discouraged with what we have, because we know our package deal inside and out. The good, the bad, and the unlovely. What we don't realize when we look across, is that every package contains plenty of both good and bad. And although someone else's package may look great, their bad may be way worse than our own bad, and we just can't see it. God has given me, and you, and everyone else exactly what is best for us. We should not concern ourselves with the packages (peas) of others. We just need to do our best to take care of the package that God has given to us. Trying to keep up with everyone else, and compare our own package with the packages of those around us is just plain exhausting.
Or maybe what we see when we look across is someone making what we perceive as a mess of things, and we think that we could do a better job. When in reality, we would be biting off way more than we could chew. We need to busy ourselves with the tasks God has assigned to us. We need to do our best in those areas with our God given talents, and allow others to do the same. We answer for what God has given us to do. Not what we wish He has given us to do, or what we think we could do better than someone else. "We don't look across."
"We don't look back." In the pea patch, we don't look back, because inevitably we will see some peas that we missed. And we will go back to pick them and we will find more we missed and then we will be that much farther from getting to our finish line. If we press on and get the job done, by dinner that night we can be enjoying a delicious "mess" of peas, as my momma used to say. Chances are, those peas that were left behind will still be there tomorrow when we come to pick again, or maybe someone else will be picking, and those missed peas will be a blessing to that person.
Philippians 3:13-14 says, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." If we are constantly looking back and wondering and worrying about what "might have been" or what "should have been," then we are not making progress. We are spending time and energy on things that we can not change. We can change today, though. We can pour our time and energy into living for God, and serving others. Today. We can make a difference. Today. But, if we are constantly looking back at chances and opportunities that we missed, then guess what? We are missing out on even more opportunities today! "We don't look back."
When we are anxious, worried or fearful, we need to stop looking ahead.
When we are dissatisfied with our life, or we judge and think we could do a better job than someone else, we need to stop looking across.
When we are not making progress, because of past failures or mistakes, then we need to stop looking back.
I am praying that this sticks with some of you who needed it as much as it has stuck with me the past week. Praying that we take this advice to heart and live for God and do our best for Him today. And tomorrow. And the next day...
Now, go forth, whether in the pea patch or life...and remember, "We don't look ahead, we don't look across, and we don't look back." Charge!