What’s up with the harvest?
Steve (and friends)
PS. This routine of not seeing much is getting tiring…
Like all elementary school teachers. I intercepted my share of notes passed during class times.
Here is a question worth pondering:
If you could slip Jesus a one-line note what would yours read? Mine would be something like the one above.
Sometimes I forget he has already answered this question.
Those words were not limited in scope to Jesus’ time and place—they have a broad-spectrum application.
Momentum Isn’t Always Easy To Spot
Even in his present day, his words may have seemed nonsensical to some. It wasn’t long after he made that bold statement, that it seemed all of his momenta was slipping away. Soon the once jubilant crowds would either vanish or turn against him. Even his closest followers would scatter. The man he trusted most would deny him. At first glance, it would be hard to spot any momentum. In fact, it would be easy to start talking about failure. Then God’s presence showed up and the tide turned. When Peter stood up on Pentecost, suddenly the power of God’s Spirit manifested so boldly that no one could deny what was going on. Anyone who had eyes to see what was afoot no longer questioned Jesus proclamation about the harvest. Peter’s role was mainly to point out, ‘This is that’ which Joel spoke of when he promised the coming of God’s Spirit. The crowds came back in droves.
Where Is Your Harvest Now?
There is always a harvest at hand. That harvest is always right around you.
You have perhaps heard this notion, but have you ever really opened your mind to the ripeness that surrounds you? If you are like me, you may have squinted, catching a glimpse of it, and then scratched your head and began to wonder, “Just how big is this field I am standing in?
The harvest is among people who are hungry. They may not even know what they are hungry for, yet. Our job is to look for the hungry ones. They are all around us. (If you are inundated by the non-hungry learn to smile, nod and walk on down the chow line to where the hungry are standing – they will gratefully receive the life of God we have to offer – life is short, time is of the essence folks unless you have a couple of more decades on you the rest of us don’t have access to!)
His ‘Fields’ Are Perpetually Approaching ‘Harvestability’
The fields have been ready for harvest since the day Jesus spoke those words. This is assuring wisdom for us. Ours is not to create an opportunity. Ours is to spot the current opportunity. There is fruit ready for us to pick, today and probably within arm’s reach. All we have to do is look. If we open our eyes and have the courage to walk through the door God designed just for us, we will experience the lifestyle of a successful farmer. We need to rethink our notions of the harvest before this can happen.
Adjustment #1: The Harvest is Always Happening
Any farmer worth his grain understands there is more to farming than just driving a combine over wind-scattered crops. Farmers plant, water, and cultivate their produce. They must rotate crops and adapt to conditions. There are different jobs to do as each season changes, but the end result is that everything leads to the harvest. Likewise, everything we do in the kingdom is about the harvest.
Adjustment #2: Each Of Us Has A Unique Role In The Harvest
Jesus pointed out the truth – the Father is always up to something on his own nearly apart from anything we do. We are wise to join with what he is up to. Through the pain of life, the trauma of sheer living, people around us have had their lives ‘Rattled’ to the point they are willing to pick up on what God has to say. They are already looking for God. That’s where we can play a role – possibly. He has designed each of us to play a specific role in the harvest. We bring divine talents and skills to the field that he has already embedded in us. The key is working together by his design.
Adjustment #3: Each of Our Best Harvest Days Are Yet To Come!
Wordsmith Henry James once said, ‘The best is yet to come.’ Based on his biography I suspect Mr. James had no idea how many layers of truth he was uttering in that statement. For all Jesus followers, that truth is constant. As our lives grow ever better in every measurable way, till our moment of going to be with the Lord, our capacity to speak the truth will continue to improve. As we mature in our relationship with God we gain wisdom and discernment which leads to more opportunity. We learn to replace sophistry with simplicity as we bring God’s love to others.
‘To be with the Lord is far better…’ Paul says. As we grow older we come to the understanding that there is no blank to fill in. We get better at conveying that simple message to others.
Adjustment #4: Stop looking at your watch and calendar when trying to get in sync with the harvest.
There is a futility in describing nontemporal concepts with temporal words. Not to drift into a discussion of quantum mechanics and the Newtonian concept of time, but we need to see beyond our current perspective. God exists outside of time – He created it! It is difficult for our minds to grasp since we exist inside this dimension of time, but for God, time and everything that happened in it is like a picture on the wall. He can look at it and see all of it or focus in on one specific segment of it.
God is always. Someday we will fully understand this. The Book of Revelation indicates that in the presence of God in Heaven we will experience continual fruitfulness at a level we can only dream of in this life. His unfiltered favor will rest upon all present. We read the ‘Trees’ will continuously bear fruit and be ready to be plucked. What an amazing change from what we have been used to thinking of in this life compared to the next one. God is going to change the way all cycles work from this time frame to that time frame. The notion of how we must wait for something to occur in order to see fruit for our efforts will be upended. For now, apparent ‘Fruit’ comes to us in spotty ways only. At best we can hope for a decent harvest, now and then, if all the factors line up. When there are no insects, famine, good rains, favorable sunshine we may see something.
When Jesus refers to the fields being ripe for harvest now, he is saying that the ‘what will be’ is encroaching into the ‘what is now’ aspect of time.
We have heard the plea that it is good to give peace a chance. What if we gave God a chance – an opportunity to do what only he can do in hearts. Think of the possibilities of his power. The key is for us to strive to see what he sees – to see how he sees. Just imagine the power of seeing others as he already sees them. They are either ready or well on their way to being ready. Regardless, he is up to something in every single life around us right now. Go to the store. Walk by dozens or hundreds. EVERY ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE is sacred geography that God is profoundly moving upon.
How can we know that for sure he is up to something big in their lives? They are alive!
That is the continual bearing of fruit. There, fruit is either in full bloom or about to bear fruit continually.
Fruitful Is Dah Best!
When Jesus spoke of the fields being ripe unto harvest he spoke in the present continuous tense. That is, the fields are ripe and they will continue to be ripe for harvest.
Jesus was speaking in reference to the age we call our lifetimes. We live in the time God has declared as both ‘Open Season’ and ‘Fruitful.’ We are fruitful because of his presence that rests upon us in an unimaginably strong, intimate way.
As a song sung by captives goes, ‘If it had not been for the Lord on our side, where would we be?’ This should be our constant meditation. We might finally realize we are people of insight and clarity only as we walk in His presence.
Only then we will stop making excuses—cease all our stabs at explaining fruitlessness being linked to God’s timing. The harvest is always around us if we open our eyes and see it.