Driving towards Langport, a jeep pulling a trailer came around the corner. On the trailer, there was a vintage tractor. The tractor was clearly in need of a substantial amount of restoration work, but it was not hard to imagine what it would look like at some future vintage agricultural machinery event.
The tractor seemed a statement of confidence, not only the confidence the owner had that he would be able to fully restore it, but his confidence that the days are returning when there will be a possibility of driving that tractor among crowds of people on a summer’s day.
If there had been an opportunity, I might have told the driver of the jeep that he was like a latter day Jeremiah (and he might have looked at me and said something rude in response).
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was a man who was prepared to show that he was confident about the future. In the year 587 BC, his country was on the verge of invasion, it was about to be overrun by the army of the Babylonians. Everyone would have been trying to get things together, to sell whatever they couldn’t carry with them, the last thing anyone would want to do would be to buy something they would have to leave behind.
Jeremiah’s cousin, who wants cash he can carry with him, comes to Jeremiah and he says to Jeremiah, “buy my field” and Jeremiah buys it.
Jeremiah knows it is a foolish investment, but believes it is a sign that there will be a future for his people in that place, “houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”
Thousands of people were taken into exile when the Babylonians invaded. The poorest people were left behind, the rest were to spend half a century in a foreign country.
Jeremiah never had the chance to return to the field he had bought, but the story remained as one that encouraged people to have confidence. Even when everything seemed bleak and when there seemed no prospect that they would ever improve, Jeremiah’s story was a reminder that unexpected things did happen; that there was a point in having confidence in the future.
Restoring a vintage tractor is far more rational than buying a field you will never hope to use. If things seem bleak at the moment, the end of the restrictions is only four months away. There is a hope that whatever is bought will be used.
The tractor will make a fine reminder of carrying on undaunted.