harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest,
therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
This is the season for harvest. In the
heartland of America massive combines are running through wheat fields gathering
in the harvest. As someone who grew up in the city, I never fully appreciated
harvest time or Jesus’ words about harvest until I moved to Oklahoma. Sandi and
I arrived in Oklahoma in April of 1990. In less than 6 weeks, our community was
engrossed in the harvest—and our lives were changed.
“Community” is the key word here. When the
harvest comes, it’s not just the farmer who goes to work. All hands are called
upon to help. Everyone is needed to support the operation to bring in the wheat
as fast as possible. Even green, city-folk like Sandi and I were enlisted.
Harvests vary, but our little town of 500 people brought in a typical harvest of
over 2 million bushels in about 10 days (and that coming from lands of low
yields compared to more fertile and watered states to the north).
machinery may cover large swaths of ground,
but there are dozens of people in trucks, elevators, mechanics and supply
efforts to support the running of that equipment. With harvest, everything can
change in an instant. One day the crop isn’t ready and would spoil in storage;
the next it’s white and a wind could blow the grain to the ground if you don’t
cut it there fast enough. When harvest comes the race is on to get the crop in
before a summer storm sweeps it away.
Working the Oklahoma Harvests changed my whole picture
of Jesus’ words about his harvest. His words ring true in 21st
century farming as they did in the first. The problem isn’t the scarcity of the
crop; it’s the scarcity of workers. All too often, we lament the apathy and lack
of faith in our communities today. Jesus, however, tells us that the fields are,
“white unto harvest” (John 4:35). Sometimes we’re looking at fields that are
green and would spoil at a premature grab; but, somewhere it is guaranteed, (not
far from us, perhaps in a place we least expect) the Holy Spirit is ripening
faith in someone that’s just going to fall into our hands. Are we ready to be
sent where his harvest is falling?
too often the church reads Jesus’ call for workers as a call for pastors.
Indeed they are important workers; but when it comes to harvest everyone is
enlisted to serve the community effort. That’s what Jesus is talking about as he
says, “ask the Lord… to send out workers!” To our surprise when we ask God for
workers, he turns back to us and says, “how about you?”
I didn’t know beans about farming, but I was
enlisted to serve in our harvests. It was an honor to do the smallest thing to
take part in this grand operation. Whether I drove a truck or helped in menial
tasks, I took the lead from the farmers who told me what to do. The same is true
when it comes to the harvest of souls. It is not about how much you know about
the Bible or how well you can speak or pray that makes the difference. The truth
is that the Holy Spirit already has a harvest ready to fall into your hands and
he will guide you in everything you need to do, if we’re willing to trust him
and follow his lead.
weekend, St. John’s missionary,
Lori Wilbert, joins us in worship
returning from one of the most unlikely and hard to reach fields of harvest—Stateville
Prison. Her story is inspiring. It’s also our story as we provide support to her
ministry behind the walls. We might be tempted to say, “I can’t go there,” but
through your support for Lori you are a part of the team. We might be tempted to
see the harvest limited to places behind our reach like Stateville, but just as
we support Lori going where God has called her, so each of us has a field we are
sent to harvest as well. Ask the Lord of the Harvest… and I know he will send
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