The Harvest is Plentiful
Last summer I picked blackberries for the first time in years. I didn’t have to go far to find them either. God gave us wild blackberries to pick right in our own backyard.
I hadn’t picked blackberries since I was a child and I had forgotten how difficult they can be to pick. If you’ve ever picked blackberries, you know that there is no one central vine or bush. It couldn’t be that easy. Nope, blackberries grow on long shoots. Each individual shoot grows up randomly from the ground, each fighting for sun till there is a mass of tangled shoots overlapping each other.
That alone makes it difficult to get to berries, but it gets worse. Each shoot is lined from the base to the tip with briers. Lots of briers. Briers that make picking the blackberries an exercise in creativity just to find a way to get to the blackberries while avoiding the briers. There are large briers on every shoot and tiny briers even on the under side of the leaves! Since they overlap each other, there are always a cluster of ripe berries, peeking out from under another shoot. Reaching in to get the berries almost always results in getting stuck or scratched from the briers. My hands were covered with pricks, scratches, and tiny cuts from picking those blackberries. But I persevered because I had a picture in my mind of serving a blackberry cobbler topped with ice cream to my family.
As my husband and I went on our daily walks, I couldn’t help but notice that there were lots of ripe blackberries that weren’t being picked near our home. They were clearly visible from the road on which we walked, but they grew down in ditches, at the edge of a wooded area always surrounded by thistle or other weeds. I walked right by them every day, and yet I never bothered to leave the comfort zone of my nice paved brier free road to go pick those berries.
I knew others passed by those same berries everyday, too. I watched others pass by them…daily. Yet none of us had the time to stop and pick them. Or maybe none of us wanted them badly enough to risk the briers in order to pick the abundance of berries that were within sight. I watched as many of the ripe berries disappeared, either eaten by birds, or simply dropped to the ground, or dried up in the relentless heat of summer.
I couldn’t help but to think of Jesus’ words “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Matthew 9:37.
No matter where we live, work, or shop, there are people who need to hear about Jesus. God has given each of us our own mission field, and it’s probably closer than we think. It may be our neighbors or their children. It may be the friends our children bring into our own homes. It may be a coworker or someone we meet through our jobs.
I wondered how many times have I passed by someone who was ready to hear the gospel and yet I didn’t take the time to stop and share the good news of Jesus with them?
How many times have I avoided sharing Jesus all because I was afraid of getting my hands scratched by a few briers – meaning I was afraid of getting my feelings hurt or of being rejected.
How many times have I walked right by someone who needed to hear about Jesus, and chosen to stay on my nice safe paved road, because I didn’t have time to step out of my comfort zone?
How many times have I lacked the courage to step down into the ditch to reach someone who desperately needed to hear about Jesus?
Why have I confined my witnessing to the places that were the easiest to reach? Why do I speak of Jesus more often in my church or within my circle of Christian family/friends than I do with the people I meet every day? Matthew 9:35-36 gives us a picture of Jesus going through the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the Good News.
Yes, Jesus taught in the synagogues but he didn’t confine his teaching to the synagogues. He took the time to talk with and teach the people He came in contact with along the way, the people in the towns and villages. The people He met on the side of the road. The person that others refused to talk to, or avoided because they had already stereotyped that person. Or perhaps they were afraid of the briers of self protection that people sometimes wear.
Why did Jesus stop to talk to them? Because they were in His path that day. Because He had compassion on them.
How many times have I neglected talking to my neighbors or family about Jesus?
How many times have I said or thought, “I’ll do it tomorrow?” only to realize later that I missed my opportunity.
Why is giving a blackberry cobbler to my family more important to me than telling other about Jesus?
Matthew 9:38 ends with Jesus instructing His disciples to “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest field.” Certainly when we pray that prayer we are asking the Lord to send more workers, but have we stopped to think that we are also to be one of those workers? Lord, help me to see others the way Jesus saw them, through eyes of compassion. Lord give me the boldness to share the good news of Jesus’ love for us through His death, burial and resurrection with those who are waiting, even dying to hear it. Lord, give me the strength and courage to reach out to those people that I often overlook. Let your Holy Spirit give me the words to say, help me to be sensitive and obedient to the leading of your Holy Spirit, even when there are briers involved.
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