Hubby and I are ready for gardening season. The seeds are bought and the ground is tilled—twice as much as last year.
This year, Lord willing, we’ll be harvesting green and yellow beans, peas, beets, tomatoes, two kinds of green peppers, spaghetti and butternut squash, pumpkins, red potatoes, and onions. We’ll enjoy fresh lettuce and cucumbers. I still haven’t decided about the carrots, though. They can be buggers to scrape and clean.
Gardening’s a lot of work, but, for me, there are few things in life more satisfying than watching the seeds we plant sprout, grow and blossom—then harvesting and preserving that which I planted and nurtured with my own hands. And this year, I’ve vowed to keep the weeds pulled so it’ll be easier to find the green beans—even if I have to notch up the nagging just a bit.
Kingdom work is gardening, too. But the person who plants isn’t always the person who gets to harvest. Teamwork and unselfishness are the requisites for a bumper crop.
First, there’s the soil preparer. This is the person who plows, tills, and fertilizes the soil to make it ready to receive the seed. This is usually God, who arranges and allows events in our lives to turn us upside-down, break up clods of stubbornness and pride, and remove rocks of selfishness. He allows the rains to come to soften us further.
Then along comes the seed planter, who either knowingly or unknowingly plants the seed of God’s Word by what he says and how he lives his life. Seed planters need a lot of faith, for they rarely see the harvest. They seldom get a pat on the back. Most have to wait until they get to heaven to see the fruits of their labors.
After the seed planter comes the nurturer. This is the person who cultivates the young growing plants, removing weeds, plucking bugs, keeping the soil soft and porous, and watering and applying fertilizer occasionally throughout the growing season. He often has to put up a fence and come up with other methods to keep predators out. The nurturer gets the satisfaction of watching the plants mature and thrive. But he doesn’t get to enjoy the harvest.
The harvesters do. They reap the benefits of the work of others. They get the satisfaction of leading a soul to salvation.
Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
But unless the soil has been prepared, the seed planted, and the young plant nurtured, there would be nothing to harvest. So the harvester can’t take all the credit.
The apostle Paul understood this well. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow,” he wrote. “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:6,8).
Jesus, too, often used gardening to illustrate Kingdom work. And He said all workers will receive their due.
“What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!” (John 4:36 NLT)
I’m not a harvester. I get discouraged often. And when I do, the words of the song by Ray Boltz, “Thank You,” reminds me that only eternity will reveal the lives that were changed by what we’ve said or done.
Until then, it’s always gardening season.
I’m not a harvester, Lord. Give me the assurance that there will be a harvest for all my efforts, that my life and work will not be in vain. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read John 4:35–38