On the South Side of a Small Hill
A small miracle reported to George L. Lovell, (deceased)
written by Jerry Borrowman and shared with permission.
It was the late 1960’s when George L. Lovell was serving as a volunteer pastor in his church. During those days he worked with his brother Rendon on their 3,000 acre farm in Ririe, Idaho. At night and on weekends George ministered to the spiritual and administrative needs of his congregation. It was in this role that he learned of a simple miracle that occurred in the darkest days of the Great Depression. Here is how he described the story many years later…
“It had been an unusually long and tiring day on the farm and I’d gotten home around 9:00 p.m., too tired to even get a bite to eat. I chatted with each of my children, kissed my wife, and crawled into bed. It was probably two hours later when the phone rang. On the other end was a young woman, a member of our church, who said that her father was very ill and that he wanted to share an important story with me. I asked if it would wait until the next morning, but she said she didn’t know if her father would live that long.
So, I told her I’d be there as soon as I could, got up as quietly as I possible so as to not disturb my wife, and then got dressed and went out into the cool night air. Perhaps thirty minutes later I was sitting at the side of an older man who I had met a few weeks earlier, but did not know well. Here is what he told me. “President, I lived in this area more than thirty years ago and I was resolved to make a success of myself as a farmer. My wife and I bought a small farm and put in our crops and did what we needed to make things work.
For the first few years it all went pretty well. Then the weather turned dry, as it did all across the Midwest and west, and we lost a crop to drought. Fortunately, we had enough savings and reserves to make it through that winter. But then the bank failed and we lost all our money. The next spring I managed to scrape enough together to put in a crop. It was still very dry, no rain like in normal years, but we planted in faith.
We were full tithe payers, so we had confidence. In time we had a few sprinkles, enough to sprout the seed and soon we had a nice crop shooting its way up through the ground. Then the rain stopped. We didn’t have sprinkler irrigation in those days, so my wife and I did our best to water things by hand, but of course it was too much. Finally, the situation was desperate and I knew that if it didn’t rain soon we would lose the whole crop and the farm.
President, it wasn’t just the money – without rain my little family would starve. It was that desperate. So one morning I got up early, put on clean clothes, and made my way quietly out the door so I could go to a secluded spot on the south side of a small hill behind our house where I could kneel in prayer. I’d prayed all my life, but that day I prayed in a new way. I prayed with everything in my heart, pleading for rain.
Finally, when I didn’t feel that it was going to be, I changed my prayer. “Father,” I said, “If you will give me just enough of a crop to feed my family, then I promise that I will go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do. But please, give me that much so my children have food.”
“Well,” he said, “The weather just got hotter after that. It wasn’t long before all those beautiful little plants that had started out so promising in the spring withered away and died. By the end of the season it was a total loss.”
President Lovell reports that the man then choked up and said, “President, we didn’t get anything that year, except from one small spot on the farm. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to feed our family through the winter. The next year I abandoned the farm and moved my family to Southern California where I found work and we were alright.”
He concluded by saying, “President, the important thing about this story is that the spot where we raised that little bit of food was grown on the south side of a small hill behind our house, and it circled the place where I knelt in prayer.” He concluded with, “I just thought you’d like to know.”
Humbled, George Lovell gave the man a blessing and then got in his car and returned home, promising to visit again the next day. About 6:00 a.m. in the morning the phone rang again to report that this good man had passed away. And that’s how God works in the lives of humble men.