A clean start – anytime of year

Charlotte Stevenson

2.1.2021 | Mission in Ireland, Farming & Rural Life

A new year is often a time for reflection, a fresh start and the wiping of the slate - clean. When it comes to actually cleaning on the farm, Charlotte Stevenson writes that as she was power hosing the calf buckets, she began to think about the New Year’s resolutions that people will make to hopefully achieve that fresh start. ‘When I looked at the clean containers, I was reminded that it’s not about turning over a new leaf, but that we all need to be ‘made clean’.’ Charlotte goes onto explain that it is only through a relationship with Jesus that this can happen, saying, '…He offers not only to make us ‘clean’ but to be with us in our daily lives with all its up and downs.'

After the challenges of 2020, the idea of a new year with a fresh start and a clean slate is greatly anticipated. Whilst we cannot always change our circumstances, it provides a time for reflection. It is also a time when personal resolutions can be made. These often relate to work and health, such as making changes to finances, diet or fitness. Some of my friends who have made New Year’s resolutions in the past have told me they didn’t last until February.

New Year’s resolutions and farm work

With regard to farm work, it may seem irrelevant to make New Year’s resolutions, as many of our tasks are necessary. In the variety of tasks there may be some you enjoy, such as feeding livestock, or milking cows. Perhaps your ideal day is planting, or harvesting crops, or when one of your best cows calves.

There may also be tasks you dislike and only do because they have to be done. I’m not sure I have a favourite. However, I do enjoy using a pressure washer to restore something to its original state, but this does not include the endless task of cleaning plastic containers.

Plastic is used for many farm items - from buckets to detergent drums. Calf buckets have to be kept clean for hygiene reasons, while others need to be clean so that they can go to commercial recycling.

The cleaning process involves removing excess debris, if necessary via the pressure washer, before being washed in hot soapy water. The buckets, which will be used for feeding calves, also have to be disinfected. No stage can be omitted, however tempting!

In my latest effort to clean the plastic I was finding it difficult to keep going until every container had been cleaned. If I had left just one undone then my morale would have been low because I hadn’t achieved my goal.

Then I started to think about New Year resolutions and how those who make them probably feel dejected when they fail to keep them. Resolutions that are meant to improve lives often end up leaving many feeling a failure.

A demonstration of Jesus’ love

Have you started tasks and been unable to finish them? Made resolutions you haven’t kept? Or perhaps faced a series of events that have left you feeling overwhelmed?

When I looked at the clean containers, I was reminded that it’s not about turning over a new leaf, but that we all need to be ‘made clean’. The Bible tell us in 1 John 1:7, 9 “…and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus came to earth to die for each one of us. When we come to Him, He offers not only to make us ‘clean’ but to be with us in our daily lives with all its up and downs.

It is unrealistic to think we can perfect every task in our work, or in our personal lives, no matter how hard we try. But we can take comfort in the belief that Jesus offers us a relationship with Him entirely out of His grace, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us.

Charlotte Stevenson farms with her husband, Jim, and son, James near Kilkeel in County Down and is a member of Mourne Presbyterian Church. Having worked in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Assembly Buildings in Belfast for a number of years, Charlotte retired in December 2017.

Her blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’, in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.

You can read other blogs in this series here.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.

Back to Blog