It’s still high summer here in the Sunshine State. Weather forecasters are calling for temperatures in the low 90s all week.
For the past week or so, I’ve been watching my Facebook newsfeed start to fill with pictures of pumpkin patches and fall festivals and friends celebrating the return of “sweater weather” – which arrives here in December or January.
But because deep and abiding envy is not a fruit of the Spirit, I’ve decided to take a break from drooling over my Facebook feed. Instead I’m scheduling my annual pilgrimage to the dollar store, where I buy my fall leaves conveniently arranged in wreaths and garlands I can scatter around the house :)
I’m cranking up the AC (as we say in the south) so I don’t break a sweat, sipping my spiced apple cider. And I’m devoting the next month of blog posts to a theme that’s been on my heart lately: HARVEST!
In John 4, in the middle of Jesus’ encounter with the Woman at the Well, His disciples appeared and started fussing over Him, questioning whether or not He’d had anything to eat. Jesus rebuked them by saying, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34) Or in other words:
What nourishes me and fulfills me and strengthens me is to do God’s will – to walk in obedience to His Word and His calling on my life, and to accomplish the work of His kingdom.
They were about to be descended on by an entire village full of people who were desperate to hear the gospel, and all they could think about was food! Or how import they felt it was to take charge of Jesus and look after Him and make sure He took care of Himself. Or whatever.
We know from the whole counsel of God (from reading all of Scripture) that it’s not wrong to take care of our physical needs or to express care and concern for the needs of others. But the disciples seemed to constantly fixate on the earthly, the temporal, the temporary. And miss the bigger picture. Miss what was so much more important. Miss what was lasting and eternally significant.
And so do we.
Corrie Ten Boom humbly confessed she once found herself at the end of a church service hoping that no one would respond to the altar call, so that she could go back to her hotel and get some rest!
Honestly we all have those moments. We’re weak, we’re frail, we’re human. We get hungry, we get tired, we get cranky. We get distracted.
But Jesus gently (and sometimes not as gently) calls us to remember that being hungry or tired or in pain is only temporary — and only for this life. Some things are so much more important.
Some things – and some people (including ourselves) – are worth fighting for! Worth persevering for. Worth enduring for.
Yes, take time to eat and sleep. Take time to be rest and be refreshed in His presence. But choose your moments! Don’t miss what God’s doing right in front of you, because you’re running behind schedule or because you have something else you think you need to do.
“Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35)
Don’t worry about the fields that aren’t ripe. They aren’t your mission. Your mission is to look for those that are.
“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.’” (Matthew 9:36-37)
All around us there are people who are desperately hungry. Starving for the hope, the peace, the love, the joy, the healing and forgiveness and mercy and grace that only Jesus can give them.
Look for them! Pray for them. Share with Him them. Feed them. Nourish them.
Even if it makes you a little late for your own lunch.
And don’t be discouraged by the enormity of the task before us. It’s true there are so many of them and so few of us. But what did Jesus say?
“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38)
In his commentary on this passage, Bible scholar Matthew Henry points out Jesus is telling us: “When things look discouraging, we should pray more and then we should complain and fear less”…
Remembering that the Lord of the Harvest will be faithful to give us everything we need to accomplish the work He has called us to do.