We lost something when family farms closed, and farm kids went to college. Society changed in more than simple agriculture.

We lost a way of thinking.

While in college, I was the Sunday preacher for a little church in Noodle, TX. In that church, I got to know a cotton farmer. I learned more about life from him than the graduate courses I took 30 miles away.

We would go to his house for lunch. He talked, and this city boy learned something. He said the winter was a time when little activity took place. The time allowed for repairs to tractors and the drawing of plans. How many acres should he plant…and with what crop?

Not one clod of dirt broke. It wasn’t time.

When the weather warmed, it was time. Tractors roared to life and tillers dug furrows into the soil. Seeds dropped into furrows, and the dirt covered them. But it was now time to both work and wait. Something had to grow.

Then came summer. Hot suns and drying winds blew a scorch mark across the lands. Clouds disappeared, and the rain stopped. It was time to keep the plant alive. Pipes with life-giving irrigation water moved from plot to plot. Cotton plants were green and tall but still vulnerable.

Then came fall. It was harvest time. Combines came out with the large wagons towed by tractors. You worked from dark to dark to get the crop in before an early frost or falls rains ruined the crop.

As I listened, I realized that most of the year was “not time.”

The apostle Paul told discouraged and dog-tired believers,

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

There is a time when life pays off, but it may not be now.

This is a hard lesson to learn. I have found myself anxious at times for what is about to happen. Humans want certainty in their lives. We program ourselves to “know” what we want. We preach goal-setting and analytics keep us informed.

But life doesn’t work on what we know. When we get discouraged or fearful, the emotion comes from this need to know right now.

Annie Duke played professional poker. After dropping out of a doctoral program from paralyzing anxiety, she went on to win the World Series of Poker in 2004. Her choice took her from one anxious moment to another. Today, she is a consultant to businesses teaching decision-making.

How could she stand the tension of high-stakes poker? The game forced a lesson on her.

“But you have to be comfortable not knowing exactly where life is going. That’s how I’ve learned to keep the anxiety away. All we can do is learn how to make the best decisions in front of us, and trust that, over time, the odds will be in our favor.” (from Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg)

The phrase that resonates is “over time, the odds will be in our favor.

Over time is a lost idea.

Society conditions us to play the short game. Get it now. Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate in ten years.”

The trouble is living for the next 12 months is a losing proposition. It’s the ten-year to eternity game that matters.

Anything of worth happens over time. Parents train children over time. Marriages develop over time. Influence happens over time.

Don’t get in a hurry. Take life a day at a time. Endure ambiguity in life. Over time, life sorts out, and significant effects take place.

If what you want out of life hasn’t happened, keeping doing what is right. It will happen “over time.”