“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever” Psalm 19
Not long ago, Marquette, Kansas, was offering free land to people who’d like to live there. Thousands inquired, according to the mayor, and at least 80 new families were moving in. Enrollment in the Marquette school has risen from 120 kids to 145, and it looks now as if the town will be able to save the place, rather than lose it to consolidation. If you’re interested, you might want to check them out. The mayor claims that the town’s offer of free land is “making dreams come true.”
The story was on national news because Marquette is replaying an old song; on the Great Plains, long ago already people homesteaded. There’s little doubt that those few Marquette residents who still live there, the same ones who put up the free land, are descended from original homesteaders because in the late 19th century people wanted to move here, and they did.
But times change, and agriculture became a business instead of a way of life. When that happened, the countryside surrounding places like Marquette, Kansas, as well as northwest Iowa, where I live, was frequently left littered with abandoned farms. I know where several are here, because they make good pictures—but little else.
A farmer I know, a man who lives not far from here, just can’t bring himself to tear down an abandoned farmstead on his land, even though it makes no economic sense to keep it standing; if he’d bulldoze the rotted old house and barn, he could put in soybeans or corn. But it’s just too tough for him to raze the place his parents lived; abandoned or not, what he sees is “the home place,” and he can’t bring himself to torch it, even though it looks like sin.
Things change. Things rot. Things fall apart. Things spoil. Things wear out. I once met an engineer who was a consultant to the military; his expertise was wear, oddly enough, a concept of vital interest to the generals who’d rather have their helicopters operate in desert sand than not.
In this world, whether we’re talking high school football, national politics, or Great Plains farmsteads, there is no standing still. Things either are moved forward—as they are in Marquette, Kansas, right now—or they fall into ruin. Nothing stays the same; the only constant is change.
What David seems to me to be after with this addition to his description of the Torah is what the few good people of Marquette, Kansas, saw happening all around them—virtual disappearance of a place they hold dear.
Not so, the Torah, David says. There’s no termites, no bacteria, no wear. God’s ways are pure, not tainted, not infected, not subject to the debilitating effects of water on wood. The Torah lasts, that’s the essence here. It doesn’t require free giveaways or frequent preventative pharmaceutical treatment.
There’s no sagging, no less than desirable effects of gravity. Nothing’s left behind. The Torah will never become an empty shadow of itself.
Because God is uniquely eternal.
His Word has knees that won’t buckle, arms that won’t fail. Like a grandchild, David might have said, you and me and all of us can climb up on the shoulders of the Torah and ride into eternity. In Him, you can homestead forever.