by Laura Chase
The 2nd portion of Scouting the Divine,centers on the theme of Harvesting. The story begins with Margaret Feinberg, and her husband Leif, spending a summer of Sunday afternoons feeding a group of young college-aged men, in their Alaskan home. Although unaware of it at the time, Margaret and Leif were going to reap a very rich harvest from their investment of “sowing” into lives and hearts of these eager and very hungry, young men.
I was immediately drawn into the story, because I grew up in Alaska and lived there until 28 years of age. At a very low point in my life, I was invited to spend a few weeks visiting an aunt in Florida. Little did I know that when I carried my 4 year old daughter and 4 suitcases onto that Alaskan Airlines 747; we would be entering into the specific destiny and purpose that God had planned out for our lives.
My heart warms when I envision the scenery, the homes, the rugged people and towns, and the groups of “summer missionaries” that would visit. Each one would arrive to our “Land of the Midnight Sun”, wide-eyed and enthusiastic; embarking on an adventure to serve ministries and churches in the mystical far-away land of Alaska.
As the story progresses we follow the lives of Margaret and Leif as the relationship with Joe, one of the young men, continued long after the others have returned to their homes in the Lower 48.
Surprisingly, Joe called regularly to give updates on his life, his loves and his dreams. It seems that during the time that Joe spent in their home, the seeds of friendship and trust had been planted in his heart towards them. He felt loved and at peace in their home.
Eventually Margaret and Leif reconnected with Joe and his farming family in Nebraska. Margaret wanted to ask them about specific scriptures that talk about a farmer sowing seeds into different types of soil. She wanted their perspective and thoughts about what it takes to farm a land, till the soil, maintain the crops and harvest the spoil.
Throughout Margaret’s farming adventure there are several small, yet very poignant things that stood out to me. First off, is her story of learning to drive, BIG JOHN; a monstrous piece of tractor known as a John Deere 8430. BIG JOHN was just one of the many pieces of farming equipment that was used to plant, care for, and bring in the harvest. What struck me is that there are many different pieces of equipment used in the different seasons of farming land and crops.
In my mind’s eye, I started seeing all manner of types and sizes of tractors, combines, balers, silos, seeders, sprayers, etc.; the kind you see kicking up dust on the horizon of fields as you are driving across the states. Each piece of equipment has a different purpose and is to be used at a different time of the farming process. However, each is needed for the ultimate purpose of bringing in the healthiest harvest possible at the end of that particular crop’s season.
In our lives, we have many opportunities to work the land (hearts) of people that Father puts in our path; opportunities to help others grow and mature in their walks with God, and opportunities to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the land of our own hearts. There are many different kinds of “human farming equipment” that God uses with the ultimate goal of bringing in the biggest and best harvest of hearts before Jesus’ return to earth.
I see various types of this “human farming equipment”. They can come in the forms of the five fold ministry; pastors, teachers, apostles, prophets and evangelist; each having a specific ability or gifting to do very specific work in the body of Christ. There are those that plant, till, dig, weed, spray for bugs, fertilize (doesn’t sound like a fun job), harvest and store. Every piece is important in the process of the harvest from beginning to end. Of course, there are other pieces of “equipment” that God uses; some are used to work the land of hearts by exhorting, edifying, giving, showing compassion, offering help, and the ability to be administrators. More than ever, I see a deeper meaning of the scripture that speaks of us being many parts, but all of us parts of one body. We are all being used by God in the care and harvest of souls. And just like the earthly farmer, we must continually watch and be on guard; for the health of the crop (lives of people) depends on it. If we are not careful with our words, they may cause a person to wilt. If we are not generous with our time, it may cause our crop to be stunted, or bear fruit that is weak. If we throw scripture or scraps of truth at the soil of their hearts, instead of paying attention to the depth of their need, they may walk away completely jaded by the church and not embrace Christ. When we become a careless farmer with the land that is entrusted with us, souls may be burned up and consumed forever.
I think of the scores of people that have harvested their time and energy into the years and episodes of my life. They poured the truth of God’s love into me when my heart was numb, gave me words of wisdom when I lacked discernment, offered their home and arms as places of safety when I was afraid, and spent eons of time listening to this wounded soul pour out buckets of disappointment into their weary ears. If it weren’t for these kind, patient and wise “farmers”, I would have given up long ago.
I was also captured by Margaret’s interaction with Farmer Aaron, Joe’s uncle. She asked why he would sometimes hold back on the amount of seed that he would throw on certain parts of ground. Aaron would explain how portions of the land have sand and rocks in it; these portions do not produce as much fruit. The question was asked why anyone would still plant in those areas, especially when it was known that the harvest would be much less. The answer caught my attention. “Even those areas may produce some fruit”. How many times in my life have I pressed past people who had track records of walking with the Lord for a while, but were always drawn back into the world; ones that seem to bear little or no fruit. It seemed like such a waste of time and energy to work with them and give them my attention. However, with the farmer’s perspective, there is still value in sowing some seed because a crop, albeit limited, will still come. It may yield an amount that is much less than more fertile ground, but you still plant seed there. Although you may not spend a lot of time with them, you still can invest and plant golden seed in an opportune moment of time.
I believe that this sowing process also relates to the investment of our tithes, alms and first fruits offerings. We must be aware of the spiritual ground that we are sowing into. The majority of our monetary gifts must be sown into ground that is healthy and prosperous, in order for us to yield a harvest that is healthy and abundant. Another reason, we shouldn’t just be casting our seed money on a whim; drawn in by compulsion or duty.
Farmer Aaron also shares that farmers can drive by other’s fields and tell if the land is being taken care of properly. They know what great effort it takes to bring in healthy crops, and if the field looks like it’s been ignored or not given the attention it needs; it is readily apparent to others. Also, neighboring farmers will always contact each other if they see trouble coming due to difficult weather (tornadoes, lack rain or flooding, bugs, varmints, etc) or situations that may damage the crop. They are almost always on hand to help another farmer in need; like for instance, when one gets injured and cannot properly work his farm or land. Farmers from the area will gather to help bring in the harvest of the one that is experiencing trouble; they take care of each other.
The same should be in the church with not only pastors and leaders, but also with fellow congregants and friends. We should be on guard, watching and observing the “land” of others; being sure to warn them if we see things that are not right and may lead to disaster. They need to be aware of things like: wrong attitudes, bad advice, difficulties, trials and temptations. We must be willing to help out and get ourselves dirty in their land, if another worker is not able to complete the full process of harvesting. Leaders are human; they hurt, they go through financial difficulties, they get tired and need rest, some head down a road of temptation, and others need a steady shoulder to lean on before they collapse from an overwhelming weight of stress. It takes a loving and unselfish heart to be willing to tend to the soil and harvest of another while they are regaining their strength.
The last thing I want to highlight is where Farmer Aaron shares that there is much work to be done, but notes that it is becoming very difficult to find people who want to work in the fields and be farmers. He mentions that because of the advancement of technology, finding qualified workers to run the equipment is also becoming more difficult. Because of all of these changes, and the lack of people who want to work hard; farmers find themselves having to work on larger pieces of land than ever before in history, with fewer people to help. If there are not enough people willing to work, the harvest will not be gathered and will be left out in the field to rot.
What a comparison to the body of Christ. We have been called to a great work, but there are scores of us that are ignoring our responsibilities and callings. It seems more and more, we are becoming disinterested in the care and love of others; we would rather remain anonymous in our neighborhoods and church seats, than to open up and build relationships with others; it seems to be safer that way. Or we work ourselves silly on our land, maybe paying too attention to the rocky and sandy parts that will bear very little fruit (things that should be given less priority); and we burn out quickly. In these times we may not have had others watching us and giving insight into what they are seeing happening with our land. Some workers get so worn out and burnt out that they become disillusioned with Christianity, and wonder if they were truly called to serve by God in the first place. Furthermore, there are others who are a part of the harvest, yet they have been carelessly tended to or run over by “human farming equipment” while in the church’s fields. These ultimately decide that Christianity is a farce and that all Christians are hypocrites; many leave and vow to never return to such a powerless and pain filled religion.
The time is short, the harvest is plenty, and yes, the workers are few. I pray that I do not allow my own selfish gain or protection, to over-ride the great and immediate need to work the fields that are around me. If these lost and wandering souls are not reached, they will remain in the fields and die. God is working patience and expectancy in me; patience to wait for the right seasons of the harvest with different individuals, and expectancy that I will follow the timing of His heart for His harvest to be brought into the storehouse, full and in abundance.
About the contributor:
Laura Chase is a wife, mother, and friend. She is the morning announcer on Life 89.1- WSMR, and owner of Word of Mouth Audio LLC in Sarasota, Florida. Laura desires to see the eyes of the spiritually blind, opened; the minds of the confused, set at peace; the hearts of the spiritually dead and deeply wounded, awakened and healed; and the lives of those that are living in emotional and spiritual prisons, set free to live out the destiny and purposes that God has created for them from before the beginning of time.
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