“Girls,” I announced, as I cheerfully knocked upon my daughter’s bedroom doors at 8:30 a.m. In a singsong voice I continued, “It’s time to rise and shine! We have beans to pick and tomatoes to can!”
Muffled groans met my announcement as blankets were drawn up to completely cover heads.
“You have five minutes,” I said as I headed to the kitchen for a cup of fortitude. As I sipped my coffee, I chuckled at the continued sounds of disgruntlement that met my ears through the bedroom doors.
To be completely honest, I identified with their pain. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of heading to the bean patch this early myself. Unfortunately, the beans in my parent’s garden weren’t going to jump off the vines and into the buckets on their own. In two more hours the hot August sun would be beating down on our heads, making us feel like Crispy Critters, thus the need to head to the patch early.
Of all the gardening chores, bean picking is my least favorite. Last week’s episode left me with an aching back and an itchy rash from the vines. The girls and I snapped beans a total of four hours, and 17 quarts were produced from the seemingly bottomless buckets. Unfortunately, after the canner turned my already warm kitchen into a sauna, 4 quarts ended up lost due to faulty seals.
Checking the kitchen clock, I see that ten minutes have now passed since I gave the girls their first wake up call. “Girls,” I yell again loudly. “Come on, time’s a wasting here, let’s get moving!”
Shuffling into the kitchen, hair all awry, and rubbing sleep from her eyes, my thirteen-year-old daughter, Emily grouched, “Sheesh, Mom, it’s not fair. I don’t even like beans.”
“Me neither,” her nine-year-old sister Erin piped from the other end of the house. “Why do we have to pick them when we don’t even eat them?”
“Hush now,” I answered. “I’m giving you all a few bucks apiece to help me out with the canning and picking, so don’t complain. I have to do it, and no one is paying me anything.”
“Yeah,” Emily responded, “But you like beans, Mom. That’s your reward.”
“Whew-hew. Lucky me.” I answered sarcastically.
“Listen guys, I know this isn’t the most enjoyable chore in the world, but the beans were planted, and it was with the understanding that there would later be a harvest. Stop complaining, and help me do the job that needs done. Your grandparents aren’t able to do this work any longer, and they are good enough to let me have space in their garden to plant. Finish getting ready and let’s do the job that we have to do without grouching.”
Not groaning any longer, but still not looking a whole lot happier about the approaching chore, the girls headed to their rooms to get dressed.
As I sat there waiting for them, I began to understand what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 9:37 when He said the harvest was plentiful but the laborers are few.
There’s a lot of work to be done before a garden is ready for harvest. The ground has to be prepared by plowing, breaking the sod, and removing the rocks so that the seed can fall to good ground. The seeds then must be nurtured for them to grow properly. A proper mixture of rain and sun has to be forthcoming. Too much rain will cause them to be washed away. Too much sun and the plants will wither and die. Weeding and hoeing are necessary to keep weeds from choking the new growth. Finally, if one is fortunate and proper care has been taken, you will have an abundance of vegetables to harvest.
But what happens when you have a plentiful harvest and not enough workers to reap the rewards? In the last week alone, I have had beans, tomatoes, peppers and apples all ripening at the same time. I have literally lived in my kitchen, laboring from early morning to late evening, attempting to get everything canned. Left unattended, the vegetables will decay. All the hard work that was put forth will be for nothing. There will be no lasting benefits, nothing to show for the labor that went into planning and planting the seeds.
Today, there is an abundance of souls in need of workers to prepare them for the harvest. Christ needs sowers to plant the seeds, He needs nurturers to care for what has been planted, He needs laborers to make sure that weeds don’t overtake the new growth, and He needs harvesters to reap what has been planted. In short, Christ needs disciples to willingly step forward and walk in the authority that He has given them in order to reap souls for the Kingdom of God.
Tossing the beans into their respective containers, I began to pray for individuals I knew who needed God. I prayed that He would send sowers and nurturers, laborers, disciples and harvesters their way. Lastly, I prayed that if God were to choose me for a specific position, I would be ready and willing to do the job, without grumbling or complaining, so that others work would not be in vain.
“Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest.” Matthew 9:38