Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Do you not say, ‘There are still four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I tell you, raise your eyes and observe the fields, that they are white for harvest. (John 4:35)
I live in rural Oregon surrounded by farmland, pastures, and orchards.
Within ‘spittin’ distance” (as they say out here) of the small community in which I live there are cattle, sheep, goat, and horse pastures.
Other plots of land, big swaths of acreage stretching from literally across the lane on which I live to the Coast Range, are filled with vegetables, fruit and nut orchards, and grass grown for seed (this growing region is famous for its grass seed crops in particular, and filbert, aka hazelnut, orchards). (Right now it’s the height of the “achoo season.”)
So “we got wheelbarrows,” that is to say the farmers and ranchers do, along with every other imaginable tool and vehicle known to man and International Harvester for cultivating, planting, weeding, watering, and bringing in the product–not to mention other purposes in and around the animal barns.
I love living out here not only because I’m not much of a city girl but also because you learn to go easy on the gas pedal, and that goes for life in general as well as on the back roads between the fields. When it’s time for the harvesting it is not uncommon to have to drive v e r y s l o w l y behind the massive combines that span nearly the entire width of the roads.
I’m not employed in that particular industry, although I grew up picking crops (like many teenagers back then), but I wholly appreciate it–and I especially enjoy watching the animals when I’m on walks. Just now there are hundreds of newborn lambs following their mothers around on wobbly legs.
My favorite are the goats, however. Goats are good for grins, for some reason, especially once in awhile when a couple of them in a “tribe” down the lane get their little heads and floppy ears stuck between some loose fencing and stand there beseeching passers-by for a little help. “Blea-e-e-et, blea-e-e-et,” they cry out (in what sounds like self-pity with a skosh of indignance). Soon they are rescued and back to munching everything in sight.
But I think they’re just trying out escape plans until they get it right. (“Next time, kids, let’s try the loose wires a little more to the right….”)
Bringing in the Sheaves
I bring up the farm scene in this series not only because farm life is a common biblical metaphor for teaching and preaching but it fits so well in, and goes right to the heart of, the series’ theme, “how shall we now live,” in this dark, divisive, dangerous, and deceptive time we find ourselves in. I could also hook “demonic” onto my “D” list.
You see, it’s easy to get caught up (frustrated, angry, scared, stressed-out–divided and conquered) by the rampant lawlessness, but times such as these are some of the very best for people who may have never seriously considered the Eternal Harvester (so to speak) and what happens at the end of the growing season when it’s time for “Bringing in the Sheaves” (farming metaphors are good for hymn lyrics, too) when trucks and flatbeds–and wheelbarrows–are filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly from the fields to sort, pack, and ship to the markets; or grind up for mulch or burn, if there is rot or weed.
Lately, I have heard several pastors and evangelists I respect and whose Bible-based sermons and teachings I frequently access remind us that this “season” in prophecy (for many prophecy scholars discern that the so-called “end times” or “Church Age” is coming to a close) is an especially good time for harvesting, in the spiritual sense.
And if you think about it, even in the secular world, where people might not listen to the term “end times,” they do hear and often repeat, just now, the term “existential crisis”. And there is nothing like THAT term and its import to cause many to look it up and look around and go, “Ya think?!” So the predictive work has been done in the secular world, too, if not from biblical prophecy, from simple logic and perusing the headlines.
There is, indeed, you might put it, “somethin’ strange in the neighborhood; somethin’ weird, an’ it don’t look good” (Ghostbusters*).
But in the spiritual sense of the “fields,” there is no single season for harvesting; rather, it is an occupation for all seasons–and all believers in each our own section of the land.
I was going to focus on the down-side “biggest challenge” of such a time as this, that being the spirit of division, as in “divide and conquer,” but I doubt there are very many people left who don’t at least have some idea that a D&C spirit has taken hold of the world, turned it upside down, shaken common sense and critical thinking loose, and replaced it with confusion, angst, rage, demoralization, and depression.
But enough about politics.
Because, as at least my go-to spiritual informants basing their reports on the Word of God have brought up lately, when it comes to the division of people it’s not about left/right, liberal/conservative, free society/totalitarianism, vaxxed/unvaxxed, and all other ways division can plow through the middle of civilization and destroy, it’s about the lost/saved.
“Lost,” in my faith tradition meaning all who refuse to put faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
“Saved” as in all those who do.
As defined here:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)**
To the Wheelbarrows
So we are blessed with fat fields and much work to do just now, spiritually speaking, whether it’s in classic ministries such as preaching, teaching, evangelizing, and so on, or the ministry of the everyday which comprises most of our work, the preaching and teaching done more by prayer, word and deed (sowing, planting, and watering God’s Word), always pointing to Jesus Christ as the answer and extending His love to a very hurting–and hungry–world.
Because people in general are gettin’ mighty nervous about things that just ain’t what they used to be.
Anymore, “Normal” is just the name of a town in Illinois, Alabama, or Oklahoma.
A storm seems to be brewing–one calls it a tornado, another, existential, another apocalyptic–but the workers are running to the fields to save the crops…to save the people…to save souls.
Here’s encouragement from this worker (in my field) to you, in yours (first posted October, 2019) because, by the day, things seem to get worse in this old world, and if one hasn’t already, it’s time to get to work–even at this late hour.
For the Workers Late in the Fields
Do not forsake your furrows,
for wheat is nigh to mills,
the tares are near black-tipped,
and merchants wait their tills.
Do not abandon harvest,
though sky is bruised with storm,
though winds sweep up the branches,
and rain in torrents form.
Don’t fret to hear the mockingbird,
discourager or cad,
or noisome howling spirits,
your distress just makes them glad.
But know the night is close,
the owner, riding fast
to see your face at twilight
and gather in at last.
*I just couldn’t resist linking this….
(And by the way, the man to “call” would be JESUS!)