The combines are rolling and the dust is flying — harvest is in full swing. A trip down Highway 36 proves that there’s no time like the present to get in the fields. We played a game as we travelled last weekend with each person in the van guessing how many combines we’d see on the trip. It had us all scanning the fields and roads for the big giants. Though I don’t remember who won the game or exactly how many combines we saw, I do remember thinking about harvest. Only farm families really understand the intensity of harvest. The farmer only has a certain window of time in which to get in the fields and get the crops out. The lines at the elevator stretch on, and grain trucks and carts creep down the roads. Late nights, early mornings, and meals in the field dominate the lives of those harvesting, putting everything else on hold. There is one focus and one goal. On our drive we also saw many harvest helpers – the grain trucks, semis, grain carts, tractors, four-wheelers, and pick-ups. Harvest is a team effort; without the whole crew, the crops would be stuck in the field. If the combine was left alone to harvest, it would be impossible to complete it.
As I scanned the landscape looking for combines, I vaguely remembered a Bible verse that I had learned once about harvest. When I Googled “Bible verses about harvest,” I realized that indeed there is a verse about harvest. Actually, according to a website titled Knowing Jesus, there are at least 70 Bible verses about harvest. Not all of them have the word “harvest” in them, but they contain references to it. Some of them are actually talking about the harvest season and specific laws to follow in the Old Testament. Some of them use harvest as a metaphor. Jesus uses the harvest metaphor as he sends his team of 72 people ahead of him to teach about the kingdom of God, “And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Luke 10:2). In John, he continues the metaphor, “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together’” (John 4:34-36).
As I think about the many people working hard in the fields right now, I think about our role in the Lord’s harvest. Jesus tells us in John that “the fields are ripe for harvest” (4:25). In Luke, he tells us that the “harvest is plentiful” (10:2). We are living in the middle of a field ready to be harvested and there are plenty of crops out there waiting for us to act. We are surrounded by people who don’t know Jesus: at work, at school, at the game, at the store, at the park, all around us. God has placed us in the middle of the field, but sometimes we are so focused on getting to the next row, the next task, the next appointment on the calendar, that we forget to look around us. Jesus tells his disciples in John 4:34 that he doesn’t need to eat because his food is the work of God and fulfilling his will. He’s not looking ahead to the next thing on his schedule (a meal), but instead he looks around and sees the work to be done in the middle of the field. He sees himself surrounded by people who need more than a meal, they need the bread of life that only faith in Christ can give.
I think about the intensity of the harvest going on right now. Then I think about the intensity of my harvest for the Lord. Yikes! Let’s just say that if I applied that same intensity to an actual field field of corn, I might have it done by Christmas. Telling people about Christ is something I’ll do if they ask, or in this blog where I sit behind my computer, or if the perfect opportunity presents itself. Most of the time, I’m waiting for the perfect day for harvest. (Farm families, you know, the day full of sunshine, but not too much to make it unbearably hot driving the grain truck without AC. The day when nothing breaks down, you don’t have to wait in line, the grain truck arrives at the exact moment the combine is full, there’s only a gentle breeze so that the dust isn’t blinding. You know, perfect.) When that perfect harvest opportunity happens, don’t you worry, I’ll tell whoever will listen all about God’s love. I’ll share my story and how my faith has got me through some pretty not-perfect days. On that perfect day, I’ll tell someone that God loves him or her SO much that he sacrificed his only son to bear the burden of our sins so that in eternity we get to share in the love of the Father. Oh, yes, on that perfect day, watch out because I’m gonna harvest like nobody’s business. But…for now, I’m a little busy moving on to the next row. I’m not even sure I realize that I’m in the middle of a field ready to be picked.
Watching those combines roll through the fields with their lights on long past dark, made me realize that I can’t wait. I can’t ignore the ripe fields surrounding me. I must be a laborer for the Lord. I need to get into the field in high gear. I need to reap! Right now, I could be “draw(ing) a wage and harvest(ing) a crop for eternal life” (John 4:36a). Right now, I could be changing lives with the message of Christ’s love. And one day, I will rejoice with the sower, the one who planted me right where I am in the middle of this field, rejoicing with those who came to know him.
Are you in the middle of the field with me? Are you waiting for the perfect opportunity to bring in the harvest for the Lord? I’m thinking it’s time to step up. It’s time to put the combine in high gear and start sharing the truth about God and the life-changing message about having a personal relationship with him. It’s going to be an intense harvest.
Lord, I am sorry for slacking. I’m sorry for waiting for the perfect opportunity to share the message of salvation and forgetting that your ways are perfect. Lord, help me to harvest your way — to see the ripe fields around me and to act with the intensity of fall harvest. Thank you, Father, for the sacrifice of your son that makes a personal relationship with you possible. Thank you for your forgiveness, your love, and the job of laborer that you have assigned to me. Help me to work hard for you.