It is harvest time in the country. Though I am not a farmer, I can only imagine that when the fields are ripe and ready, all farmers have a power surge flow through their bodies, and they shift to a totally different gear. Weather conditions could change, the quality of the grain could be compromised, or the beans could begin to shell out. All the effort and investment of preparing, planting, tilling, and management now culminate in this peak moment. The urgency is like a pregnant woman going into labor pains. It is time to bring in the crop.
I rode a combine this week. Gary Klett let me climb up on his big green machine and ride down the field with him as he harvested his corn. Wow, what a thrill to see and experience the combine in action. That big diesel engine roars to life, the teeth on the header begin to chew through the stalks and rows of corn, and the grain fills the bin in a hurry. Gary spoke of his gratitude to the Lord for the blessings of the harvest.
Matthew 9 says that when Jesus saw the crowds coming, seeking healing and wanting to hear about God's kingdom, "he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the harvest field."
This past weekend our keynote speaker for a mission conference, "A Light for All Peoples," was Dr. Gemechis Buba, Director of Global Mission for the North American Lutheran Church. Raised in Ethiopia, he also preaches and teaches in a television ministry, which broadcasts via London to 42 different countries. He shared that when this ministry began, he employed two prayer counselors to be available by phone should anyone watching call in. In the early days, they were so deluged with calls, particularly from Muslim countries, that they would work through the night to field all the calls. He has continued to add more people to respond to the calls. Presently, every time his ministry airs a broadcast he has twelve people on duty to minister to the callers. Then he said this, with a big grin on his face: "They are my combine."
When people call, they ask to hear more about Jesus; they ask how to pray to receive Jesus as Savior, Lord, and God; they ask for counsel to face major life challenges, request prayers for physical or emotional healing, or for support to share their love for Jesus in an oppressive Muslim culture. But, as the counselors pray, visit, and encourage people, they are used by the Spirit to "bring in the harvest." They are God's combine.
Each day we all meet people who need the grace, light, and power of the Spirit to transform and free them. We become stuck in unhealthy rhythms and habits, we forget who gave us life, or we lose our direction and purpose. We feel harassed and helpless. Jesus's forgiving love and grace offer all of us new beginnings. Do you believe that?
Everyone you meet today is precious and important to our Lord. He calls us to love them into the Kingdom. It's harvest time.