Most of the fields in Bucks County, PA, have been harvested, and they stand ready for the next crop. Timing is so important when the farmer considers the best time to plant. He must be aware of the weather and soil conditions to impact the harvest. Patience is a virtue that is desirable for every farmer. James points to the farmer as an example to emulate as we wait for the Lord to return. "...See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." (James 5:7-8)
As the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Harvest time cannot be changed, however the quantity and quality of the harvest can be impacted by what is done during planting and growing seasons. The quality of the seed and the amount sown will have a direct effect on the harvest as will the soil preparation and the amount of watering and fertilizing.
The Bible frequently makes an analogy between agricultural crops and the salvation of people and their growth as Christians. Look at Psalm 1:2-3: "But those whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditate on His law day and night, that person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season..." The Lord commissioned His disciples by telling them to make "disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) We. likewise, have been commissioned to help in the growth and quality of the harvest. It was the Lord's desire that His disciples and those who follow His teachings act like farmers by "planting" the seed of the Word of God in others and "watering and encouraging the seed of truth." God is looking for a body of Believers who are mature, "bearing fruit" that is ripe for harvest.
Disciple Paul encouraged the Galations by telling them, "Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galations 6:9) James describes a way to bring about a good harvest for the Lord in a specific way. He says, "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:18) When writing to the Romans, Paul explains, "I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you...in order that I might have a harvest among you..." (Romans 1:13) Paul's teachings helped the Romans grow in their faith.
We are called to join the Great Commission so that we can impact the harvest. Here are some suggestions for ways to effect the harvest: Give a word of encouragement or a personal testimony. Show the love of God through acts of kindness, deeds of service or through a listening ear and sympathetic heart. We never know when the seeds that we sow might root. That is why we must be patient like the farmer waiting for harvest. Remember that the Lord will determine the time of harvest. Our job is to plant seed and care for those who will be transformed and grow in their maturity until harvest time occurs.
Joan E. Mathias