I am not a gardener, but I still love every lesson taught in farmer’s almanacs of the abiding and tending of seedtime and harvest. Onions aren’t ready to be pulled from the ground as long as their necks are stiff. Ackee—a fruit that’s been part of my favorite birthday breakfast for years (ackee on toast on a sunny Jamaican morning is a most divine gift)—is poisonous until it is fully ripened. The only way to know if ackee is ready to be enjoyed is to allow it to open on its own. The poison is the fruit’s own defense against being forced open and eaten before its time.
That last sentence could be its own story about just how imaginative God is in His creative design. Imagination is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Harvest is but a moment in season upon season of moments.
And the time for harvest is when the fruit is beneficial, or helpful in meeting needs. Harvest too quickly, and the fruit is bland, limited in its purpose. Wait too long, and the fruit loses its flavor, rots, shatters, or “goes to seed” (to stop blooming entirely).
There is nothing that is harvested for the sake of the harvest itself. The fruit steps into its own season of covering or sustenance or healing.
Or, perhaps, even a moment of simple pleasure and delight.
It is transformed into strength or protection or comfort or joy or peace. And in that transformation, it abides and tends and plants seeds of its own into new gardens which, in their own good time, will be ready for harvest and transformation.
I’ve never met a gardener who doesn’t have dirt under her nails, who doesn’t let her knees sink deep in the soil, who doesn’t watch the skies and peek under leaves and lean in to listen to the quiet voices of color and texture and flavor and fragrance. I’ve never met a farmer who doesn’t know the condition of every field he is tending or go to battle to protect the life they carry or do the work necessary to let the fields bloom and grow.
Nothing is harvested for the sake of the harvest.
No, the gardener and the farmer know the true reward of the harvest is the life-giving story that will be born from the fruit that would not exist without the abiding and tending. They know that a shepherd of the fields tills and plants and tends and prunes, protects and waters and waits and rests. The harvest comes in time. Only in time. And it is but a moment in season upon season of moments of glorious moments as the fruit bears out its purpose.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
In a culture that loves to celebrate all sorts of harvests with shouts of “bigger” or “faster” or “better,” remember what God does as a gardener. In a world that tells you it’s important to seek acclaim and notoriety, remember what God does as a farmer. When the noise becomes great around you to make a name for yourself, boast about success, slap a “best-selling” or “fastest-growing” or “most trusted” label on a pedestal that will certainly crumble in time, let your knees sink deep in the soil of humility and get your nails dirty with the long-road work of abiding in the fields that He has given you.
He gives you wisdom. He gives you the seeds. And He will be glorified in the harvest that bears life-giving stories. No matter the field in which you stand, shepherd well.
Here’s to the beauty of the fields. Here’s to staying dirty.
But the wisdom from above is always pure, filled with peace, considerate and teachable. It is filled with love and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy in any form and it always bears the beautiful harvest of righteousness! Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace. James 3:17-18