A friend recently reminded me that there are few things as beautiful as a North Dakota wheat field ready for the harvest. As a farmer’s daughter, I absolutely agree! The prairie landscape has changed, however. Still majestic as the amber waves, but there are fewer farmers. The little corner I grew up on once had seven farms in the township. Today, there are two active farms. Beyond economics, it makes me wonder about what Jesus once said, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
When I’ve heard those words of Jesus, I’ve often thought of it as a scolding. Why aren’t there more people signing up to help with Sunday school or volunteer at the soup kitchen? The harvest is plentiful. The laborers are few. I’ve pointed to this as a Jesus complaint that calls us to action, but I’m not so sure anymore. Perhaps this isn’t a glitch in God’s system, but an intentional feature that causes us to learn to lean not on our own understanding but to trust in God with our whole heart, and in all we do submit to the Lord.
Think about Gideon’s army in the book of Judges. The Israelite army under Gideon’s command was whittled down to just 300 men. The laborers were few. In the eyes of common sense, they had no chance at all to defeat the Midianite army that stood 135,000 strong. However, through the power of God, and God’s wisdom alone, they were in fact able to defeat the Midianites and claim victory.
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. We see this throughout God’s story. God using the most unlikely people in the most ridiculous ways to display the beauty and the majesty of God’s creative power and redemptive work. A rag-tag band of misfits we know as the twelve disciples. Sarah and Abraham, a barren couple old enough to be great-grandparents become the expectant parents of many nations. We read the diary of a wimpy kid that God chose to be the king of Israel and we give thanks for the unwed teenage mother that birthed the Messiah.
Yes, the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. However, the one thing that the laborers all have in common is their dependence upon God. They trusted God with their whole heart. They trusted in the faithfulness of God to guide the mission and bless the work of their hands. To bring in the sheaves; to fill the hopper of hope, to believe in the strength of God’s Spirit to multiply the harvest, thirty, sixty, a hundredfold.
May we too yield to the mission of God and the beauty in what God wants to do in and thru us as the people of First Lutheran on the corner of 7th Avenue and Broadway in Fargo. May we lean not on our own understanding, but trust in the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind and pray that we might be given what we need to live, love, and lead like Jesus for such a time as this.