“My food, “said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘For months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:34-35 NIV)
This passage from John 4 was the theme for our Fall Revival this past week with Pastor Bill Schaefer, a series of messages centered on gardening/farming. We were reminded of how various aspects of the process of growing apply very closely to our spiritual lives; from planting, to pulling the weeds, to harvesting. Even if you’ve never planted a garden, it’s easy to see how these concepts apply to our lives.
In the passage above, in saying that the fields were ripe for the harvest, Jesus may well have been referring to what follows in verses 39-41. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.”
Jesus and his disciples were on their way to Galilee, and took this detour through Samaria, a land and a people that they typically avoided if at all possible. Much is made of Jesus talking to this Samaritan woman, and asking her for water, but imagine how taboo it was for Him to stay in their town for two days. It was not culturally acceptable to do so, and it was not part of their original plans, at least as far as the disciples knew. But Jesus saw a harvest ripe for the picking, and so He allowed Himself to be detoured to see them become believers in Him.
How often do we allow ourselves to be delayed or detoured so that we can plant seeds, or help in the harvest? We are all too often in too much of a hurry, or too focused on what we had planned to allow God to change our plans along the way. I know I have to force myself to slow down at times and look for the opportunities that God is putting before me to be a blessing, to plant a seed, or to see a seed begin to blossom and bear fruit. I walk past or maybe sometimes run past way too many of those opportunities.
If we really stop and think about it, is what we’re hurrying off to nearly as important as being a catalyst or some factor in the change in someone’s life for eternity? The things that fill our lives, at least a good bit of the time, are valuable things to be sure, but are they as important as someone’s eternal soul? I encourage you to work at being aware of the opportunities that come your way and see if God just might use you to be a part of the work He is doing around you, maybe even right next to you. Take the time. It will be worth it.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen