Combines dot the outskirts of my small town this time of year. They trek down row after row, from morning ‘til night, gathering rice, corn, and soybeans from the fields. It’s harvest season. And though it’s hard work, this is the time when farmers get to reap what they sowed during the labor-intensive spring.
Harvest is one of many metaphors Jesus used to describe the Kingdom of God. In John 4:35-38 he says, “…lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already ripe for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
One of the beautiful things about the family of God is that we work together to grow the Kingdom. One sows and another reaps. Or as Paul says in First Corinthians, “our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.” This concept of reaping what others sow and all parts working together makes me think of my family’s relationship with Pine Cove.
Ever since my children were very young, we have escaped to the woods of East Texas for spiritual renewal and refreshment. The first time we attended family camp with our two toddler daughters, seeds were planted in our young family. The camp director, his wife, and their slew of Jesus-loving children planted in us a vision for how to grow disciples in our home. The amazing college-aged summer staff showed us what kind of people our kids could become–selfless servants, not consumed by possessions or ambition, but eager to rock a child to sleep, clean a table, or do a cheer when tired if it helps advance the Gospel. This type of young adult is rare in our culture, but it’s the norm at Pine Cove.
You could say that for the last seven years, these seeds have been taking root, and our family has been working to nurture and cultivate a harvest from them.
This summer, our tween daughters attended one of Pine Cove’s overnight youth camps by themselves for the first time. I prayed diligently in the months leading up to camp that God would move in their lives that week. I prayed that their faith, which has always leaned pretty heavily on Mom and Dad, would grow “legs” and walk on its own. Their week at camp was “the best week of their lives” by their own admission, so in their eyes it definitely didn’t disappoint. But I remember talking with a friend soon after they got back and she asked me if camp had had the significant spiritual impact on my kids I expected. I laughed a little. “Well, they’re not perfect angels now or anything!” I admitted that my expectations might have been a little too high for one week out of their year, but then my wise friend expressed words that, deep down, I knew to be true. “Well, it’s our job as parents to do the spiritual rearing and discipling of our kids anyway,” she said. “It’s our actions they’re watching day in and day out and patterning their lives after.”
This is the truth, isn’t it? I was reminded once again that in this Kingdom work of raising up disciples, there is a lot of seed-planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. And as believers, we all have a hand in the field. I know seeds were planted in my girls’ lives this summer. I have been reminded at various times since when they’ve told me something they learned or special about their counselors. But it’s been my and their daddy’s job ever since to ask questions, dig deeper, and help them grow.
Jesus described this situation in the Parable of the Sower in the Gospels. Some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock, so they sprouted quickly but soon wilted without deep roots. Others fell among thorns that grew and choked out the tender plants. Yet some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a rich crop. I believe it is our job as parents to create “fertile soil” in our homes so the seeds planted aren’t choked out but able to flourish.
We do this by making prayer and Bible-reading a priority. We faithfully take our children to church so they can be a part of the local Body. We show them how to love and serve others, and we run every question and life problem through the filter of scripture.
The reverse of this equation is also true. It’s our job as parents to plow up the ground of our children’s hearts and plant seeds of righteousness (as it says in Hosea 10:12) throughout the year so when our kids go back to camp next summer (which ours will), their counselors can reap what we have sown. This is the Body working together.
Like all families, ours struggles at times. We go through seasons of loss, frustration, and complacency. That’s why I’m thankful we’re not on this journey alone. Not only do we have our local church, but we have our Pine Cove family through whom God is working to sow and reap righteousness in us. We live in an uncertain world, and now more than ever, I’m thankful to have extra hands in the field.
Posted Oct 20, 2020