When Paul wrote to the people in the church in Thessalonica he reminded them of his love for them. "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (1 Thessalonians 2:8) When you share your lives with someone you open a window to your soul and produce a harvest from the seed you plant. When you praise God with the Body of Christ God will bless you with the harvest. "May the people praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us." (Psalm 67:5-6)
When I look at these two Scriptures they remind me of a time when I experienced them. In early November, 2007, my friend Donna treated me to a trip to Visalia, CA where her friend Maureen lives. Maureen's church was having a conference called "Created to Worship." While I enjoyed the conference and was encouraged by it, the treasure that I found during my visit was the new friendship that blossomed. Maureen graciously welcomed me into her home and included me in her life. I quickly discovered that she and I had several common loves--love of God and love and appreciation for His Plant Kingdom. Our common bonds drew us closer to one another.
Maureen's home was surrounded by a walnut grove. Donna and I arrived around harvest time. I learned that the yield and quality of nuts from Maureen's grove was consistently better than surrounding groves. Not only does she conscientiously care for her trees, but she prays over them. She praises the Lord, blesses and thanks Him for the harvest to come. My fondest memory of our visit is of spending an afternoon sitting in the sun at Maureen's picnic table at the edge of the walnut trees cracking open the walnut shells. Of course, one must eat some of the nuts as the shells are cracked open:) Honestly, those walnuts were the best one I have ever tasted!
What I just shared with you came back to me as a surprise package arrived in my mail box. The box was large and heavy. I had no remembrance of having placed an order for something. I asked myself, "Who could be sending me a package?" The heaviness of the box made me think it might be books. I carried it upstairs to my condo, and as I placed it on the floor I saw the return address label. Maureen sent me a portion of her walnut harvest.
I am delighted with this priceless gift from Maureen. You see, she not only shared her walnut harvest but also opened a window to my soul as I renewed my memory of our time together and contemplated what grew within me through sharing her life. I continue to taste of the fruits of her labor and want to share them with my loved ones.
It is through simple moments of sharing our lives with others that God opens our souls and comes to join us. I believe this is one of the reasons that He tells us to celebrate His feasts with one another. Next week is The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). God's people build booths on the first of seven days. The booths are decorated with fruit placed on palm fronds and poplar branches. Everyone will remember together how their forefathers lived in the open when God brought them out of Egypt and will celebrate His goodness in providing for every need. God says, "Be joyful at your Feast...For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete." (Deuteronomy 16:14-15)
This week take time to notice the beauty of creation and thank God for drawing near. Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles by giving God a portion of your harvest and joyfully praise Him for calling us to His banqueting table for everlasting fellowship with Him.
Joan E. Mathias