Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Driving South of town to make a visit, I drove by a dairy farm where they were chopping corn silage. I was amazed by the harvesters devouring the corn, four rows disappearing as a steady, stream of fresh chop poured into the semi-trailer driving alongside. Quite an enormous difference from the one-row chopper I learned to operate!
The experience led me to reflect on changes in agriculture. 2 row planters have given way to 24 or even 48 row machines! 2 row corn pickers have been replaced by 12 or 16 row corn heads. 9 foot grain platforms have given way through the years to 30-40 foot flexible units. Of course, the cost of machinery has grown exponentially!
In the mid 1980’s I wrote a letter to my father reflecting on the experience of operating a combine with an 8 row corn head at a demonstration day. Reflecting on that experience, I wondered, “were we as determined to find ways to labor in the harvest to which Jesus calls?”
God’s Holy Spirit continues to stir our spirits, to answer his call! During this pandemic, we are being forced to turn away from the “bigger is better” developments, and instead find other ways to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The rapid changes brought to us have been disorienting and in some ways we have been afflicted by spiritual paralysis as we have been told to change our practices in order to protect life. Yet, God’s Spirit is calling us to reject the paralysis and find ways to minister to others, even as we embrace change. Our Lord’s call is to harvest fields that are white for the harvest, and eternal life that leads us to journey beyond this temporary home. The truth of our Lord’s love and call is as powerful as ever:
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-38
It is crucial not to miss the fact that the next thing Jesus does is call and empower his disciples to go out and minister to folks! (If you keep reading in Matthew chapter 10)
Despite the vast differences: a one row chopper and a 4 or 6 row unit, 2 row or a 24 row planter, 9 foot grain table or 40 foot, flexible platform – all require guidance and direction or they are useless, or worse yet, without guidance might be destructive!
We need guidance in ministry! “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” We are never able to minister effectively without the guidance of our Lord. We might even find our efforts to be damaging if we refuse to continue to seek Jesus’ guidance.
The harvest is plentiful. Folks continue to be harassed and helpless, and we know the Good Shepherd. We cannot do everything the same way, but we do have the same Lord and Savior to whom we pray and seek guidance as we answer his call to go into the harvest. Ministry may involve writing a letter, or making a phone call, sharing a video-chat, or driving by and stopping to pray with folks from a distance. No matter all the changes, folks still need to hear the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ! People need the compassion of our Lord expressed through the ministry he has given us to share. May we continue to pray for guidance, direction, wisdom, empowerment, and opportunities to carry on his harvest in unique and wonderful ways!
Praise be to God, good things he has done, and our Lord continues to call His Church to the harvest as we pray and practice the love and mercy of God! In Jesus, Pastor Paul