My thoughts this week were often about--harvest!
This week we spent some time in our garden. We have finished most of the garden harvest for this year but still had garden things to do. We had fences and cages and posts to remove and a few marker flags to make sure we didn't leave hidden. Eventually the tractor and chopper and tiller will be brought out and used and those things could cause damage that we don't want to be responsible for. We want to be good stewards of the land and equipment. Just as God placed garden keepers in Eden and gave Adam and Eve the task of being stewards of His creation, we all are given our place on earth to keep and care for what we have been given. Though, I confess that sometimes I feel that I have failed when I see the weeds that grew after my efforts at trying to keep them from growing. This time of year, when there is nothing left to be harvested, I see the weeds and wish that I had done better at being a good steward.
One of the things that we noticed during our work times was the frozen sad looking plants. Some of the saddest looking are the pepper plants. They did not survive the cold hard freeze temperatures. I had made sure that I picked the peppers long before those cold temperatures arrived. I gave two of the plants that needed picking to someone else to pick. So I was surprised to see on those sad plants a number of peppers that had not been picked on the ones that I picked and on the ones I gave away. I know from past years that peppers are very good at hiding from the gardener--me! Knowing how elusive they are, I made very sure that I did a good job of searching for peppers in hiding. Green peppers somehow disguise themselves as leaves when I am looking for them. It puzzles me for sure. And, once again, I missed enough of them to make me wish that I had made an even harder effort to find them. That reminds me of how many people are being deceitful. They disguise themselves and pretend to be someone they are not. But in this, they are trying to hide from those in authority. They don't want to be found. The Master Gardener doesn't have to search for them as He already knows who they are. They forget He is omniscient and knows all things. Those hiding "pepper" people will lose out on what He has to offer. Just as my peppers will lose out on being part of good things to eat. They are now useless. I picked one that I thought might be useful--it was not! The lesson I think I see in all this is--if I allow myself to be exposed to the coldness of leaving God and get cold, then I no longer will be useful to Him for harvest as He prepares me for the ultimate harvest. I want to be found and not left out in the cold. I want to be hidden in God's heart, not hidden from His sight.
There are a few things left in my garden that are cold temperature survivors. My Brussel Sprouts have done surprisingly good. I was not expecting much from them early on but somehow, they found the ability to grow and thrive and are still thriving after the freezing cold. I am sure that there will be unexpected people in God's kingdom that no one expects to be there. Won't that be wonderful! We have a row of Swiss Chard. We normally enjoy a meal of Swiss chard "greens". This year we planted a chard variety that isn't green--it is ruby red and very pretty. I stir fried some and it turned out like ruby jewels at first and then became dark and unpleasant looking. Serving it cooked was not to our liking and to our taste. We have decided that it doesn't need to grow in our garden again. But isn't that just like some people? They look beautiful and seem to be just about perfect jewels, until they are put to the fire and tested. Only then does one see their true color--rather dark and ugly. I pray that I am not like the red Swiss Chard. I want to just be plain on the outside but have the beauty of the love of God on the inside.
In farm fields in Iowa, one often sees fields of soybeans. Our farm has many acres of soybeans and this year we had a good harvest for which we are very glad and thankful. We have a good farm manager and farmer. They care for the land and are good stewards. We were blessed with good growing conditions and together, there was a good harvest. We grow garden soybeans in our garden too. Our effort at growing soybeans was made difficult by the attack of the Japanese beetles this summer. The harvest was greatly reduced by those bad bugs. I have picked the beans, dried them, and have been shelling them. Normally I find many 3 bean pods, some 2 bean pods, and a few 1 bean pods. This year is different. This time I am shelling many, many, 1 bean pods, quite a few 2 bean pods, and just a very, very, few 3 bean pods. My garden bean harvest is not going to compare to the field harvest. I would not call it a good harvest at all. I am glad for the small harvest we have received, though we would have been much happier with a good harvest undamaged by the bugs. It reminds me that Satan comes to try to destroy God's harvest. God is waiting for His harvest. I pray that Satan's "bug" damage has not been too great, and that God's harvest will be--not just poor, not just good, but a great and wonderful one so that His city will overflow with His harvest till there is no room for even one more "bean."
One day Jesus and His disciples visited a city named Sychar. The disciples went looking for food for hungry men. As they returned, they saw farms with recently planted fields of grain. They discussed the harvest wouldn't be until later, maybe 4 months later before it would be ready. Soon Jesus noticed a woman with a procession of village people with her coming to where Jesus was. Jesus told His disciples to open their eyes and look at the fields that were ripe and ready for harvest. The harvest of people is certainly not the same as the harvest of crops. There is an urgency for both harvests but different. Grain not harvested rots after the prime readiness time. Satan tries to spoil people, those who are ready but ignored. Looking around this world, we can see many results of Satan spoiling part of God's harvest. Many are so unhappy with their lives without Christ. Evil is everywhere.
God is almost ready for His harvest. He wants to harvest you and me! I want to be part of His great harvest. I am sure that you want to be part of His harvest too!