September 16, 2015 Ponder
Fields of bright orange pumpkins are an obvious reminder of the fall season. Leaves that have been green for months are turning red and gold. A friend remarked that it felt good to have the canning season about finished; you did not hear this comment in June.
Summer is a time to plant, cultivate, water and practice patience as plants develop and eventually produce their crop. Even people who find gardening relaxing will admit that they expect a reward for their effort. Our excitement over the first blossoms on the tomato plant turns to concern if we do not see little green tomatoes appear.
Harvest is not always an annual event. Unlike growing apples, where you expect a return each year, growing relationships takes a lot longer. Few people get to know each other to the point of genuine trust in a brief period of time. First appearances can be misleading, but spending time together and working alongside one another cultivates a relationship that will either last or will reveal that this is not a match.
Psychologists debate the possibility of humans experiencing love at first sight, but I doubt that this is ever reality. There may be major attraction or infatuation that over time will lead to genuine love. The trust and respect that combines with commitment takes time to build and depends on a lot of things, including personality, cultural background, values and discipline.
Followers of Jesus pray and believe for a “harvest of souls” into God’s family. By that we mean people trusting Jesus as God and Savior. It is the ultimate harvest in a situation that may have involved years of teaching, mentoring and waiting until the person finally owned their sin and accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection on their behalf.
We read stories of people who lived for decades in a community where they saw little, if any, response to the Gospel message. They finished their career and perhaps were no longer living when a huge response took place. Seeds were planted and lots of cultivating was done before the harvest was finally realized.
From gardening to marriage, child-rearing to retirement, telling Jesus’ Story to seeing people believe – the focus is always on the harvest. If we knew that a peach tree would never produce fruit, we most likely would not put any more effort into it and might even replace it. That is okay with trees but not acceptable with people. We do not know what people’s long-term choices will be, but we must do our best to invest in them and anticipate a joyful harvest.
I am grateful that Creator God gives us many reminders of the joy of harvest in nature, because it motivates me to follow those principles by patiently believing for the best from people – especially from those who for a time seem determined to make hurtful choices. God has an amazing ability to turn potential losers into high-yield producers of lasting fruit.
Pastor Bill Ehmann