This harvest has been one of the most difficult in recent times for farmers. Harvest concerns can be seen on their faces and heard in their voices. Only last Friday, a retired farmer from the Mayville area pined that his son had yet to combine the first acre of soybeans or corn. Some of the crop has already been abandoned. It is challenging to look out the machine shed door and see acres and acres of crop that are unreachable for harvest. They need our prayers.
From a different vantage point Jesus looks out upon the world and speaks from His word of a different harvest, a harvest of compassion, a harvest of souls… “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” John 4:35 NASB
Even though He tells us this harvest is present, plentiful and accessible, He laments the progress of this harvest as well…“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38
Pastor, church counselor, and author, Thom Rainer writes in his book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, of twelve common markers identified within former congregations that ceased to exist. One of those markers is the failure of congregations to the Great Commission. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Sadly, some congregations choose not to remain faithful to the Great Commission. Ironically, harvest season by its very nature is a season of joy in spite of the challenges. In the farming community, it is the joy of seeing a season of work being brought in. In the spiritual realm of the church, it is the joy of rescuing lost souls and witnessing as they enter into the kingdom of God. (Luke 15:7) It is one of a congregation’s greatest and most contagious joys to be able to be part of the harvest even while the rest of life’s challenges go on.
The Lord Jesus has blessed St. Paul’s to be a part of the harvest. He has instructed us how, He has equipped us, He has given us the people to do so, and He has placed us in a community of people from all walks of life and nations who are ripe for harvest. May we experience this joy to the fullest.