It’s harvest time again. In previous years out at the farm my job has been to do the cultivating after the crop has been taken off. I like that job. I’m in a nice, clean, fairly quiet, air conditioned cab with comfy leather seat, a stereo and a cup holder for my coffee. It has GPS steering so once I drive the headlands all I have to do is make the turn-around at the end of the field, touch a button on the screen and then sit back and watch to see that everything is working.
But I’m not really harvesting. Oh, it’s part of the farming, but I really have had nothing to do with the actual work of bringing in the harvest.
This year, as it happens, I’m driving truck. There’s a lot more pressure driving truck. There’s the almost constant shifting of gears, dealing with traffic, the rush to get back from dumping at the yard so the combines don’t have to stop and wait, the stress of not spilling while picking up from the combine on the go, the noise of all the machinery and so on.
And then there’s the barley dust. You just can’t avoid it. By the end of the day my eyes are scratchy, my neck is just about raw, and I’m itchy all over. But it’s worth it because I’m actually part of the harvest!
Jesus told his disciples to pray that God would send out workers into the fields to bring in the harvest. It was a metaphor he used to describe the process of telling people about the love of God expressed to us through Jesus, and leading them to a life characterised by hope, meaning, and purpose as we live to serve God and others rather than ourselves.
Here’s the challenge: the first word Jesus spoke after the instruction to pray was “Go”. Many of us, myself included, would prefer to stay with the cultivator. We like the familiar, relative comfort of going to church, singing familiar songs, being with people who think and dress like us, and where we pretty much know what to expect. But we’re not really being involved in the harvest.
To be involved in the harvest is more dangerous and more stressful. We’re going to be uncomfortable, and we’re going to get dirty as we involve ourselves in the lives of people who Jesus died for but whose culture and experience is vastly different from our familiar “church circles”.
I’m committed to being in the dust of the harvest, will you join me?