The Law of the Harvest
Food is a pretty important aspect of every living person’s life. We need food to survive. We understand that.
But, many of us have lost track of what it takes to receive a harvest. There is a process. You have to work the soil, plant the seeds and water them. You have to wait for them to grow, keep the weeds down, keep watering and be patient while the plant works together with the soil to produce the fruit. Then at the end of the season, the harvest comes and we are able to enjoy the fruits of our labors.
What would happen if we skipped those steps? What would happen if, instead of planting the seeds we ate the seeds?
The following article is based on a sermon by missionary Del Tarr who served fourteen years in West Africa with another mission agency. His story points out the price some people pay to sow the seed of the gospel in hard soil.
I was always perplexed by Psalm 126 until I went to the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert. In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year’s food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields.
October and November…these are beautiful months. The granaries are full and the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday’s Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.
December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day.
By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don’t stay well on half a meal a day.
April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel. Then, inevitably, it happens. A six- or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. “Daddy! Daddy! We’ve got grain!” he shouts. “Son, you know we haven’t had grain for weeks.” “Yes, we have!” the boy insists. “Out in the hut where we keep the goats and there’s a leather sack hanging up on the wall and I reached up and put my hand down in there and Daddy, there’s grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!”
The father stands motionless. “Son, we can’t do that,” he softly explains. “That’s next year’s seed grain. It’s the only thing between us and starvation. We’re waiting for the rains, and then we must use it.”
The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest.
The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, “Brother and sisters, this is God’s law of the harvest. Don’t expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears.”
There is much we can learn from the Law of the Harvest. We have all been entrusted with certain resources. Some of us more than others. God tells us this in the Bible, in the book of Galatians, Chapter 6:7: “7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
You (and I) have been given resources. What are we doing with them? Are we using them wisely, or are we squandering them on frivolities and vices. I had to go through this myself. How?
I used to buy a Starbucks coffee 4 days a week. I had a job, and was working hard. We had the cushion for me to be able to afford it. It was something I enjoyed. But then my job got cut down to part time. And all of a sudden, I realized I had been wasting tons of money on something I could be making at home for pennies. And if I hadn’t spent all that money on coffee, I would have more money in savings to live off of right now – when I needed it the most. My thinking on buying coffee changed at that point in my life. Do I still buy a coffee from time to time – yes. Rarely, but I do. About once every 6 weeks now. And to be honest, it’s a huge waste of money to blow 4 dollars on coffee. Especially if I have limited income. What I’m doing is eating the seeds instead of planting them.
What about you? Are there things you’re spending your money on that are really frivolous? If you cut that out of your life, would you have more money to live on? How about things besides money? How do you use your time? If you spent less time watching TV or playing video games, (I’ve been there too!) could you have more time to invest in things that will grow and bring you a return on that time.
My question for you today is are you living by the law of the harvest? Or are you relying on someone else’s harvest to get by?