This morning a blogger friend of mine posted a poem about His Harvest based on Matthew 9:37-38, which says:
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Being from the midwest, she mentioned fields and combines in her post. This brought back memories of when I drove pea combine for a summer during college and led me to some observations and thoughts about the harvest.
Jesus, of course, is not talking about literally harvesting wheat, corn, or peas. He is talking about harvesting souls for the Kingdom of God. He is saying that there are many who are ready to accept Christ as their Savior, but those who already believe, the laborers, must go out and bring them into the Kingdom. As I thought about literal harvesting of crops, it occurred to me that not all souls that will be part of God’s harvest will be brought into the Kingdom in the same way or at the same time. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything.
Ecclesiastes 3: A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
During the summer that I drove pea combine we usually worked 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. But one day, at the end of the day, the leadman on our fleet said we could have the next four days off because the peas were too green to pick. I’ve always thought that was kind of funny because aren’t peas supposed to be green? Anyway, this got me thinking about how important it is to harvest at the right time because if you harvest peas when they are too green they will not come off the vines in the combine barrel and your crop will be wasted. It was also important, when harvesting peas, to not drive the combine too fast. If you did, then it would get clogged full of too many vines and some of the peas would end up being wasted.
Similarly, if you try to get a person to accept Jesus when they are not ready they might be put off by your forwardness and turn away from God altogether, forever lost and a wasted soul. But if you wait for the right time, if you listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit regarding whether they are no longer “green,” then you will have a successful harvest. If you wait when the Spirit says wait, and go at the proper speed, you will enjoy a much greater harvest in the long run.
My friend, in her post, referenced the fall harvest. But not all harvest in the fall, even though we think of fall as harvest time. In my town, the Farmers’ Market opens in May and each fruit and vegetable crop is ready in its own season. The market vendors must be ready to display whatever produce is currently in season because that is what the market goers are looking for. I know I am always anxious for the first green beans, which are never available on the first weekend of the market. But if I am patient, eventually I am rewarded with beautiful green beans, plus I get to enjoy some of the other produce before the beans are available.
In the same way, we must be ready for whatever soul harvest is ripe at any given time. The person we think we want to lead to Christ may not be “in season” but another that we weren’t thinking of might be. We need to be open to share with whomever the Spirit shows us is ready to accept Christ and be patient regarding those on our hearts who maybe are not ready right now.
Next I started thinking about our pear trees. We used to have two different pear trees, one Bartlett and the other Bosc, but the Bartlett was cut down during our construction project last year. Now we only have the Bosc. We were willing to sacrifice the Bartlett to put up a storage shed because we never got a very good harvest from it. It usually had quite a few pears on it each year, but the time for picking them was very short. One day they would not be ready, the next day they would, and then before we had a chance to go pick them they were on the ground and had become food for the birds and bugs.
We were careful to preserve and protect the Bosc tree, however, because it has always provided us with a more stable crop. The time within which the pears can be picked and be ripe enough was much longer than for the Bartlett. We seldom found Bosc pears on the ground beneath the tree. However, the size of the crop on the Bosc varies from year to year. One year we had well over 100 pears off this one tree, but this year we had only 2. It occurs to me that the absence of the Bartlett tree for purposes of cross-pollination might be to blame for this smallest crop we have ever had.
So what do my pear trees tell us about the topic of His Harvest? I think that flexibility and following the Spirit is again the key. For some, the window of opportunity to share the love of God with them might be short, and for others that window might be longer. We also need to be prepared for the fact that we are not always going to have a huge harvest, but sometimes we will. And we are not always in charge of ensuring that a harvest is there, but we are responsible for opening our eyes and reaping the harvest that is put before us by God.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:34-38.
So are you ready for the harvest? Are you keeping your eye on the crops Jesus has put you in charge of so that you will be ready when the time is right?