I came across the name of a man today. It is a name with which I’m very familiar, but I was led to read a little more in depth. The man is Norman Borlaug. Some of you may know who he is, but for any who do not, I’ll give you a brief account of his life and accomplishments.
Norman Borlaug was born March 25th 1914 to a farm family outside of Cresco, Iowa. He had a prototypical upbringing for a midwestern farm kid of the age. He grew up hunting, fishing and working the family’s 106 acre farm. His primary education took place in a one room school house, and he was baptized and confirmed in the Saude Lutheran church. He graduated from Cresco high school, where he also participated in football, baseball and wrestling.
Through an Depression-era program known as the National Youth Administration, he was able to enroll at the University of Minnesota. While earning his Bachelor of Science in forestry, Norman, like most had to take jobs to support himself. One such job was as a leader in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Many of the people who worked for him in those days came to him starving. Though he didn’t realize the impact at the time, the scars those images left would forever change his life and the lives of over a billion others.
Before and after graduation, Norman worked for the US Forest Service. He had his career and life coursed out and was headed down it. It wasn’t for long, though, and due to budget cuts he lost that job. That’s a pretty significant blow to be dealt, for anyone. I’m sure he thought, as most of us would, he had arrived. He had made it. Then blindsided. Have you ever felt like that?
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Well Norman returned to the University of Minnesota and under the tutelage of his mentor Elvin Charles Stakman, received a master of science degree in 1940 and Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics in 1942. He went to work for Dupont, where during World War II a number of his projects worked to aid our soldiers in combat. Impacting lives.
After the war years his research and efforts changed complexion. He remembered the look of starvation in the faces of his past workers. The rest of his life was dedicated to the development of high yield, disease and drought resistant crops. Crops that could be grown in regions ravaged by hunger, where conventional crops and farming techniques were useless. His life’s research led him to countries around the world, Mexico, South America, Asia, India and finally Africa.
Norman Borlaug became the man God would use to feed the world. Norman’s life work is credited with saving over a billion lives from starvation. All this from a boy who started from such humble beginnings. A young man who’s life course was set, or so he thought. However, God had different plans for Norman.
As I read about Norman’s extraordinary contributions to the world, I can’t help but think about how it almost wasn’t was. I think about the chain of events required to bring God’s plan for his life to fruition. I wonder how often Norman felt stuck in the mud, that things weren’t going according to plan. I find my heart overflowing with faith in the knowledge that Norman’s life played out by design. God’s design. What reassurance can be found in this story. Reassurance that no matter what happens in our own lives, though we may not see it, want it or understand it, if we hold onto that faithful knowledge that it is by God’s design, great things will happen.
I think about all the people that God brought into Norman’s life. Each person necessary in the development of “the man who fed the world”. I wonder how many of those people lived an entire life not knowing the contribution they made in his development, their role in feeding the world. Not all of us are destined to be Norman Borlaug, but every Norman Borlaug needed a great many of us to realize their design.
As I go forward from this day forth, I will try to be more mindful of the “Borlaug Effect”, how my life impacts others, who in turn affect others, who affect others who will affect the next man who feeds the world.
Lord let me no longer doubt the plan and design You have for my life. Heavenly father erase from me the doubt of the significance and effect my life has on those around me, rippling out to the rest of the world and generations to come. How great is Your design and plan, Lord? I can’t see it fully Lord, but this I know, the gift of faith You fill my heart with assures me that it is a grand and perfect design. I pray Lord that my ripple in this world will have the effect You desire. In Jesus’ precious name Amen.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy