GPS and Squirrels’ Ears


 Have you ever wondered how farmers know when is the best time to plant each crop? Do they consult the Farmer’s Almanac and pay attention to the signs of the moon? Do they wait for the subtle clues in nature, codified in sayings like “plant corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear?” Or do they get their guidance from crop experts?


According to an Iowa State University agronomist, the temperature of the soil is the key to planting field corn. 50 degrees F at a depth of four inches is the “magic number.” Another agronomist from ISU compiled data from years of research and concluded that April 15 to May 9 is the best corn-planting window for our part of the state. Of course, farmers are also guided by field conditions. For example, is the soil still soggy after the last rain?

This year we planted soybeans in the field south of our house in the second week of May and corn in the field by the windbreak the last part of April. The oak trees and the scientists agreed.


That’s the when of planting, and here’s the how:


The large yellow bins (called bulk hoppers) on top of the planter hold the corn or soybean seed. Seeds are delivered to individual row units by a computerized system that controls the rate and depth at which kernels of corn or soybeans are  planted.


The planter isn’t the only piece of computerized farm equipment. The fields have already been mapped out with software utilizing the GPS (Global Positioning System), and that information is used by the computerized steering system on the tractor while planting.


The GPS guidance uses signals from four or more satellites to pinpoint exactly where the tractor is, enabling the tractor to drive itself while planting. The result? Perfectly straight rows with no hands!

*          *          *          *          *

When we have a decision to make or a task to accomplish, where do we get our guidance? Thankfully, we have a God who is able and willing to help us.

The Lord will guide you always;   Isaiah 58:11   NIV

If we’re smart, we’ll seek and wait for His advice.

let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance

Proverbs 1:5   NIV

Sometimes I wish I could have my instructions for the day appear each morning on my computer and hear a loud beeping when a course correction is needed.

How do we receive guidance from God?

The Lord guides us

     through the wisdom and common sense He has already given us;

     through the advice of wise counselors, friends, and family;

     through Scripture;

     and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Just as the GPS uses signals from four or more satellites, we may be directed by more than one source. God guides us with love and kindness, desiring to maintain His relationship with us, which wouldn’t happen if we simply read instructions on a computer screen.

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

  I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.   Psalm 32:8   NIV


in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:6   NIV


but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course

Proverbs 15:21   NIV

*          *          *          *          *
Squirrel photo by Patricia Hunter at
GPS educational poster from

Posted on June 11, 2015, in Devotional and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Constance, how lovely to “meet you” through Thought-Provoking Thursday today. Your words here encouraged me during a very difficult week. Thank you! I love that verse from Isaiah 58 and needed to be reminded of it today. Blessings to you, my sister.

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment, Lyli! I’m glad the verse from Isaiah was an encouragement for you today, and I’m happy that I chose to include that particular verse. I’m praying that His Spirit comforts you the rest of this week.

  2. I’m visiting from Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart. Interesting observations! I’m glad the Lord does direct our paths even if different from our original plans. And you’re right, sometimes He uses multiple means to guide us. I love the Psalm 32:8 verse. He always has His “loving eye” on us. How comforting!

  3. I have a Proverbs passage marked as “GPS for the soul,” Proverbs 2:9-15 (The Message). Funny thing is I was just reading it to Keith this morning 🙂 The writer calls Lady Wisdom, Brother Knowledge, Good Sense, and Insight the things that keep us from making wrong turns. And as a born and raised Iowa farm girl, I do love straight rows!

    • I love it when I hear the same message from different sources! Straight rows are beautiful.
      I’m going to go read that section of Proverbs in the Message version right now.
      Thanks for the great comment, Barb!

  4. As usual, your post is full of good sense and advice. You are right to give verses of Proverbs is a book of great wealth and great depth.

  5. I loved your post! It’s always amazing when we can learn the things of God through nature. I don’t know much about farming and this was really interesting and informative! I love how you tied you insights into it.

    God bless! I’m visiting from ‘the weekend brew’ link-up : )

  6. elizabethfstewart

    What beautiful photography. I’m so thankful that we have a God who wants to, loves to, lead and guide us. Now, if we’ll only listen and follow!

    • Elizabeth, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. Isn’t Patricia Hunter (at generous to share photos with bloggers! The squirrel picture is hers. As I wrote this post, I was struck by how lovingly God leads us, and he is so patient as He guides us.

  7. Gorgeous photos and beautiful reminder that God is the one who will direct us on the path we should go. You chose some amazing verses that teach us well where and how to find our guidance. Thank you for joining The Weekend Brew. Blessings!

  8. Loved your blog. I’m a farmers girl from way back, so I enjoyed reading and the pics. Those gps units on the new tractors are really something aren’t they? Still can’t get my mind around that! I rode with my dad so many times when he plowed, planted or harvested. I loved those days. I love how Jesus used so many stores from working the earth in His parables.

    • Debbie, thanks for your kind words. Farming has changed so much–my father did field work with a team of mules when he was young.
      I’m glad the Lord doesn’t change His mind and will keep His promise to guide us.
      God is not human, that he should lie,
      not a human being, that he should change his mind.
      Does he speak and then not act?
      Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

  9. Constance, I am so thankful you linked up with The Weekend Brew. What beautiful photography here! I am following along in your journey and look forward to more inspirational posts.

  10. Constance, what beautiful pictures from your farm. Love them! I’m with you on wishing I had a written out guide for everyday. But I guess we really do, right? Grateful for the encouragement we can offer one another to keep following Him!

    • Holly, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.
      Yes, as much as I’d like detailed, written instructions from God, I realize that kind of guidance would turn into a to do list instead of a relationship. Thanks for your kind comment.

  11. Oh my Constance I skimmed your post initially with a general curiosity about planting corn. The information you shared about how farmers tune in to field conditions was interesting. But then God caught my heart with the scriptures you shared and I knew this post as a word… For me. Wow! Divine appointments are a blessing. Thank you for delivering the word today and for linking up at #GiveMeGrace! Happy Sunday!

  12. Thank you so much for your encouraging comment, Lisha! I am so happy to know that the verses I selected and prayed over were a blessing to you today. Sometimes God speaks from unexpected places.
    Thank you for providing the opportunity to share at #GiveMeGrace.

  13. christinelaennec

    Very interesting to me, a town girl. I will think of “he will make your paths straight” in a new way now!

    • Thanks, Christine! I’m happy to share ways Scripture verses have been made new to me. I had one of those light-bulb-over-the-head moments a few weeks ago while riding in the tractor, when I remembered Prov. 3:6.

  14. Thanks, Connie, for your insight. Your husband explained things to us when we visited you, but your detail about how the GPS works and the pictures help to put that in my mind. As some of your commenters said, I so remember the “olden days” when my dad had to the steer the tractor himself! I’m with you on wanting detailed instructions on my life from God on the computer screen! Just finished a devotional book that stressed–God’s word is a lamp unto our feet–He’ll give us “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”, which was the name of the book. Each hour’s guidance is what He promises. I’m trying to be satisfied with that.

  15. What a beautiful post, Constance! I have been driving past corn/bean fields for the past decade, but never had any of it explained to me. Not only did you explain it beautifully, but your application is also beautiful, and just what I needed today.

    I am/have been trying to learn this lesson, just to ask for what I need for today and trust God to take care of tomorrow. Now I will add the mental picture of ‘no hands on the tractor wheel’ to my prayers! Thank you 🙂 You are a blessing!

    • Thank you, Joyce! I appreciate your kindness and encouragement so much.
      It’s so much easier to learn our “lessons” when we have concrete examples like tractors and corn and bean fields. I guess that’s why Jesus used so many parables–he knows our learning style.

  16. Constance,
    I love your analogy…and I didn’t know planting corn had become so high-tech 🙂 Thank you for pointing us back to God for our daily guidance.

  17. What a beautiful blog with photography. I am so glad that we met at the Writers Workshop and I am looking forward to staying in contact with you. The words about the G.P.S were helpful since I am working on a sermon with this message. We can follow the world’s Global Positioning System or listen to God’s Positioning System because He will take care of us and put us where we are needed if we just follow Him. Sometimes the road is not always straight but if we trust in God than He will eventually lead us home.

    • Hi, Jolyn! Thanks for your kind words about the message and the photos (which are hopefully part of the message). I’m glad the GPS information will be helpful for your sermon. I look forward to hearing how God is working in your ministry of writing.

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