September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’”—Luke 10:2–3 (NIV)
I grew up in New Jersey. Before you completely disengage, let me tell you about the Garden State. Outside of the industrial areas that surround our beloved airport, you’ll find rolling mountains, beautiful beaches, vast pine forests, and, as our state’s nickname implies, lush gardens. In early autumn, the gardens, orchards, and farms, ripe with fruits and vegetables that have been growing all summer, welcome locals to harvest their fresh bounties. Each September, my family and I would visit orchards and pick all kinds of apples, searching the trees for only the perfectly ripened fruit, adding them to our increasingly-heavy basket, and then taking them home to star in homemade pies.
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus talks about a harvest, and I can’t help but picture the farms in New Jersey. Harvest season doesn’t happen all of the time—it’s only a few weeks out of the year. There are some years that the harvest doesn’t produce much fruit, whether it be because of a drought, insects or other pests, or because the soil has been overplanted. Harvesting requires a lot of work and depends on a lot of people to pitch in and gather for the most abundant supply. If not harvested, fruit will over ripen and rot on the vine, wasting the months of slow growth and cultivation leading up to the harvest.
But what kind of harvest is Jesus talking about? Not apples or berries or pumpkins. Jesus is talking about people. He calls the harvest “plentiful,” because there are so many people who are “ripe” with anticipation of receiving the good news of the gospel. The problem is there aren’t enough workers to gather the harvest.
That’s where you and I come in. We, as believers, are being asked to go to work in the fields. This isn’t necessarily a call to an international country, though that’s possible. The fields are the circles of influence around you, where you live, work, and go to school. The Lord of the harvest has placed you in your zip code intentionally. He’s gifted you sufficiently. He’s already at work where you are, and the fruit is ready to be harvested. Would you join Him in His work?
This is the description of a missional leader. It’s someone who understands their influence, leverages their gifts, and accepts the invitation to join God as He works in the lives of those He’s placed around them. I think that description sounds a lot like you!
Jesus commands us to go like sheep among wolves, which doesn’t sound very favorable. But, it’s exactly how He was sent. He’s the Lamb of God who was sent to a people who attacked Him and ultimately had Him killed. As Christians, we bear His name and mirror His call, but we don’t do it on our own. He’s sent His Holy Spirit to empower and equip us and to prepare the harvest ahead of us. It makes our job easy because Jesus has already done it all!
The beautiful thing about harvesting is that it’s not meant to be done alone. Farmers hire extra workers during harvest season. When you say “yes” to God’s invitation, you join an army of other believers just like you, laboring alongside you. Just like enjoying a homemade apple pie from freshly-picked apples with my family, it makes the harvest, and the fruit of the harvest, even sweeter. Let’s go harvest!
Pause: Do you see yourself as a missional leader? Why or why not? What steps can you take to identify yourself as a leader and join in on a mission with Jesus? It could be as easy as learning your neighbors’ names, inviting the lonely student to lunch, or starting a book or Bible study at your office.
Practice: Visit a farmers market and pick out freshly-picked fruits or vegetables. Thank the farmers for their work to grow their produce, and thank God for the reminder that He does the same.
Pray: Jesus, Lord of the harvest, I want to join You in Your work of harvesting, but sometimes I feel afraid or inadequate. Thank You that You’ve already done the hard work on the cross and through the resurrection. Thank You for inviting me to join You in Your work. Remind me of my gifts. Embolden me with Your courage and strength. Open my eyes to see how You are working all around me all of the time. I want to choose to join You in Your work, to bring You glory! Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.