By far, my favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was the one featuring the late Paul Harvey and his rendition of “So God Made a Farmer.” Photographs of sturdy farm buildings, farmers, children, livestock, tractors and weathered hands stream by as Harvey, in his unmistakable intonation, explains how on the eighth day God created the farmer. It made my hair stand up.
I descend from a long line of farmers. My maternal and paternal grandparents farmed, and many of my aunts, uncles and cousins chose farming as their vocation. I know first-hand that few, if any, work harder.
And I am a Paul Harvey fan. I have vivid memories of my father tuning into Paul Harvey’s News & Comment program virtually every day at noon and then The Rest of the Story later in the day. Harvey’s folksy nature and gift for spinning a tale are legendary.
So if Paul Harvey says that on the eighth day God created the Farmer, I accept that.
But assuming He did, it wasn’t long after that …
God created the Finisher.
From the locks on the doors that protect our children to the lawman’s tools that protect the peace to the defense equipment that protects the freedom of a nation to the power grid that fuels a civilization to the high-tech medical equipment that sustains human life, God needed someone to ensure these functioned when needed and did not wear away before their time. So He created the Finisher.
The farming equipment that feeds the world, the appliances that simplify our lives, the brilliant coating on a brand new truck and the ornate relics in our most sacred shrines all owe their appearance and longevity to the Finisher.
Part chemical engineer, part research scientist, salesman, plant superintendent, regulatory expert, environmental steward and blue-collar equipment operator. Part father and coach to so many more than just his own family. God had to have someone so versatile as to play each of these roles and play them to perfection, so He made the Finisher.
Not for the love of money, but for that of his craft and his industry, God had to have someone who could endure a blazing shop floor at the peak of summertime and weather a blizzard in the icy depths of winter to keep a commitment. Someone who could treat his suppliers fairly, enabling them to support themselves and employ countless others. Someone who could devote himself to nature and the environment, and at the same time to his employees and customers, and balance and protect the needs of each. Someone who could adapt to ever-changing regulations, and the ups and downs of the dynamic economy, and reinvest in his business even when conventional wisdom says not to.
If, tragically and suddenly, fire were to rip through a coatings plant, destroying a family’s livelihood, a grandparent’s legacy, an employee’s hope and the will of a lesser man; or should a major customer move its work halfway around the globe, God needed someone with the tenacity and vision to rebuild and fight another day.
But He also needed someone with the patience to find a way to complete the job, even when the rest of the supply chain consumed the lead time. He needed someone who could be comfortable coming to work on Monday not knowing what orders he would be running by Wednesday, or even if those orders would come. Someone who would interrupt a perfect production schedule to accommodate a customer’s expedite. Someone who would rework a part as many times as it took and then study his process like a learned scholar to make sure that he got it right the next time.
God needed someone who could lay awake half the night worrying about a tank overflowing, a payment to the bank, a promise to a customer or the wellbeing of an ailing employee, yet still rise early, put in an 11-hour day by 4 in the afternoon, leave his plant to watch his child’s baseball game or share a meal with his family, and then return to work to finish a job that a customer just had to have first thing the next morning. So He created the Finisher.
Making decisions on faith, keeping promises on principle, compassionate when necessary and resolute when vital, matchless, brave, patient, innovative, flexible, persistent and loving. Exemplifying all of these traits, God created the Finisher.
And well He did.