I relaxed in a chair on my daughter’s patio, enjoying the sighing wind in the locust and oak trees, the musical jingle of wind chimes, and the warmth of the sun on my face. Then I became aware that I was being watched.
A striped chipmunk sat at the edge of the patio’s cement pad, less than a yard from my feet. The chipmunk’s cheeks were bulging with small nuts, acorns, I surmised from the nearness of the oaks. He was a creature on a mission, on his way to store the nuts for winter, and I seemed to be in his way. Perhaps the chipmunk was wondering if I was a danger to him, if he dared risk it. Certainly I was an obstacle. He must have decided I was a harmless sort of giant, because he scampered under my chair and around the corner of the building. He and another chipmunk (he and she?) returned in a few minutes, with empty cheeks. The pair made several trips, coming from the east with cheeks full and returning from the west after caching their harvest. They continued to scurry unafraid and undeterred underneath or just behind my chair.
Not everyone is as courageous as the chipmunks. In Number 13 we read the story of the spies whom Moses charged with scouting out the Promised Land. It was the beginning of the season to harvest grapes, and the men brought proof that this was a land of plenty.
they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them Numbers 13:23 NIV
The scouts all agreed that Canaan was a land of “milk and honey,” but full of powerful, strong people–the descendants of giants. Only Joshua and Caleb had faith in God and believed that they could conquer the land. The leaders pleaded with the people:
Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land . . . Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them. Number 14:9 NIV
Do you remember how that story ended? Instead of entering a land where harvest was underway, the children of Israel spent 40 more years in the desert.
Fear is not the only obstacle in harvest. You must wait for the crops to be ready. The soybean fields on our farm are now a rusty-brown, and the golden stalks of corn have paled after being dried by a hard frost, but harvest may still be delayed. Farmers can check a sample from a field for moisture content to see if the corn or beans are dry enough to combine. If not, they may need to switch to another field that was planted with a different variety or to one that was planted earlier.
The harvest of souls is another matter. It’s impossible to look at a person’s heart and “moisture test” their soul to know if they’re ripe for “harvest” into the kingdom of God. Russell and Barbara Reed, American missionaries in the Philippines, must have thought that surely the time was right once they had overcome the obstacle of learning the language of the people. They wanted to reach a tribal group on the island of Mindoro. For months they searched for the people, eventually found a village, and started learning their language. Years passed and initial interest changed to rejection. After nine years in the Philippines the Reeds, none of the tribal members had made a commitment to Christ.
That changed in May 1962. Traveling to the east again, they found a group of people with hungry hearts. Before long, seventy-five people were baptized, almost the entire adult population of three villages. What had made the difference? Centuries earlier a shaman had prophesied, ‘Someday white people will come here to teach us. Big people. And they will know our language. When they come, we must follow their teaching.’ This prophecy was passed down for 16 generations. When the leader in the east heard the Reeds speaking his language, he knew they were the ones for whom his tribe had waited more than 350 years. from Telling the Gospel Through Story by Christine Dillon
Sometimes the obstacle to “harvest” for the kingdom of God isn’t time, it’s place. A friend of mine moved and now teaches in a different state. The leadership in her new community has brought in speakers with a positive message to talk in the schools. Recently, a daytime presentation was followed by an evening meeting, where the gospel was presented. This would not, could not have happened in her previous school, she explained.
The harvest in her small town was ripe. When the speaker concluded the evening presentation with an invitation to accept Christ as Lord and Savior, over a hundred came forward, and my friend was privileged to pray with some of them. She texted,
The fields are harvest-ripe here! Glory to God! We had many to pray with those that gave their lives to Christ, but not enough.
Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! John 4:35 NKJV
Then [Jesus] said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37,38
My “harvest” prayer for us all: that we may be courageous when facing “giants,” that we may be wise with our words (written and spoken), that we may recognize the right time and place to share the good news, and that we may remember that God is the Lord of the harvest. * * * * *photos of grape vines by Barb Briggs * * * * * Linking with