It’s a known fact that being connected to the land is an advantage to a human soul that longs to be connected to God. The Apostle Paul once said that God reveals himself through all that he created. He said, “But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse (from not knowing God).” (Romans 1:20 – The Message)
I was thinking about this during the hay harvest last summer. I considered the pressure a farmer often feels when it comes time to gather up his hay after baling it in the field. Every year I feel a sense of urgency getting it out of the field and under protection before an unexpected thunder storm rumbles out of nowhere and ruins it. A drenching rain can easily damage fresh cut hay. Moisture causes mildew to grow in the bale; mildew creates heat; the increase of heat can eventually cause the hay to combust into flames which has caused many a barn to burn to the ground. The harvest can be a tricky matter and every farmer I know has, at one point or another, felt a sense of urgency when it comes time to get his ripened crop out of the field.
Jesus once spoke of this urgency when he asked,” Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’?” Then he said, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life” (Mark 4:25). He told them not to procrastinate when it came time for harvest.
In July we cut and baled about thirty-five acres of dry land hay. We don’t have the water to irrigate our fields up here at Timber Butte so we only get one cutting a year. If it is ruined we are without hay for the coming winter which causes a major hardship. Generally we hay during June but this past year we had an unusually wet spring and were forced to postpone the harvest for several weeks in order to be assured the field would be dry enough. Even July turned out to be cooler than normal and our local weather remained unstable. Timing is crucial in the harvest. My old friend Duncan showed up for his third year of helping me cut, rack and maintain my relic farm equipment. This year another friend, Jim Davis, joined us helping to keep everything in repair. Things went fairly smoothly, with the exception of a major baler breakdown. That is until it came time to get the hay bales out of the field. That morning the sky turned dark and the weather man again predicted a cloudburst of rain. To my relief our kids came to the rescue bucking hay out of the open fields under the cover of our hayshed.
When Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” I think I know, at least a little, about what he meant. The harvest he spoke of however was far more concerning than our insignificant hay crop.
We live in a critical time in human history. For anyone who has eyes to see it, there is a massive storm building on the horizon and it is swiftly approaching.
We live during a unique season – in a period of grace between the first and second coming of Christ. His first coming provided the provision for the harvest of men’s souls, but the second, the one that is yet to come, will bring judgment and the separation of good and evil on the earth. The harvest he was speaking of is the ingathering of the righteous, those who have chosen salvation by choosing him. This moment of final choice for eternity is clearly brewing like a gathering storm on the horizon. Nearly everything he said would happen before his coming has either already taken place or is happening. One has to be in a total state of denial not to see that the world is in a rapid state of global change. As Jesus said, the harvest is ripe and ready and only requires a people to take it seriously. The harvesters he spoke of are those who refuse to sit on the side lines with attitudes of contentment or complacency thinking that everything will always remain the same as it always has (1 Peter 3:3). Rather, they are the ones willing and ready to lay everything aside for the sake of getting out into the field before the storm comes and it is too late.
As a whole, farmers have always been known for their natural faith. I think this is because year by year we are faced with the reality of inevitable changes in nature. We are people who understand we can’t procrastinate when it comes to the harvest. Because we live with nature, we innately understand the power of God and the character of his nature because we know how dependent we are on it. The idea of the urgency of harvest is not a new thought to us, nor is the crucial need for a willing workforce when it’s ready. In the same way, if we are truly authentic followers of Christ, we also are called to his field and must have attitudes that are no different.