Summer always fly by so fast!  Cooler temps and much rain this year has not been good for our garden.  The vegetables have produced at a slower pace and in smaller quantities.  As I was tending to the garden a couple months ago, I saw the tedious work as harvesting souls for Jesus.  We plant the seeds, water the plants, pull the weeds, protect the vegetables from the wilds and trust God to bring in the crops.  I pictured those who will reap the benefits of the garden as the plants mature and produce.  There is much work to do but when I focus on what God can do with the harvest, my labor becomes purposeful. 

This illustration is a good reminder to me of the work I am to be doing for the kingdom of God.  I am merely a worker for Jesus.  I may plant a seed about God in a person, someone else may water the seed by showing them God’s love, but it is God who makes their faith grow.  Many times, I get discouraged in doing work for God because I don’t see the results of a changed heart or life.  Other times, I want to be recognized for doing the work because I feel what I’ve done is more important than what another person has done.  But the apostle Paul said, “It isn’t important who does the planting, or who does the watering.  What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.”  There is always much work to be done and God wants to use us to help bring the harvest of souls to him.  Jesus told his disciples that the harvest is great, but the workers are few (Matthew 9).  “Wake up and look around.  The fields are already ripe for harvest” said Jesus in John 4:35.

In order to harvest, we must be willing to die to self.  In John 12:24, Jesus explained his own death and resurrection by saying that unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone.  But its death will produce many new kernels, a plentiful harvest of new lives.  First, I have to let go of my pride, allowing God to use my failings and weaknesses unless I choose to remain an isolated believer.  Second, I have to put to death any shame, discomfort, awkwardness, and fear in order to point many to Christ.  Then, I must be willing to pray like Isaiah, “Here I am, send me”,  or like Jabez, “that you would enlarge my territory” of ministry (my emphasis). 

Getting to the place of praying these prayers is tough but receiving God’s assignment is an even greater challenge.  For our family it has meant giving of our time, money, and energy to share with those whose hearts are ready to hear about Jesus:  family, neighbors, friends nearby and far away, and even strangers.  We’ve shared Jesus over meals in our homes, on family outings or vacations, and on special trips when God places a specific need on our hearts.  We’ve learned to be flexible and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading even when we are fearful of looking foolish and feel inadequate to represent God. 

There have been challenges, doubts, and conflict when opportunities arise for us to serve but we face them confidently, understanding that God is truly the one doing the work through us.  Whether the time spent with these folks is short or long, we know it is an eternal investment of utmost concern to God.  Therefore, we do our best to schedule ministry appointments on the calendar so we can be the church to those who are not yet ready to enter a church building. 

As we enter into the harvest season, I pray that each one of us will continually look for ways to be the church for people wherever we are so we can reap the harvest for Christ.  May we always work enthusiastically for the Lord, knowing that nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless!