The Law of the Harvest
She could so easily have given up and gone back home. Things didn’t go as planned, and now she was a young grieving widow in a strange country with a 10-month-old daughter to care for. Nearby neighbors? The tribe that speared her husband to death, along with the 4 other missionaries who accompanied him. She probably wouldn’t be getting any casseroles from them.
But Elisabath Elliot, daughter of missionaries and missionary in her own right, wasn’t giving up before harvest time. She did the one thing not many would have counseled her to do – she remained in Ecuador. She raised her daughter there, in spite of the danger, and learned the language of the tribe that made her a widow. Elisabeth loved them and forgave them, and over time, she won them to Jesus.
We too face the temptation to give up before harvest time. Life can feel like an endless season of sowing, often under brassy skies and barren clouds. Holding out for a harvest we can’t see when everything in us screams that there has to be an easier way takes real faith and courage.
No matter how long it seems to be taking, The Law of the Harvest says that we reap what we sow.
Galatians 6:7 – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (NIV)
Sowing seeds of complaining will reap a harvest of ingratitude. Seeds of thankfulness will reap the joy of a grateful heart. Sowing uncontrolled anger will reap broken lives and distrust. Investing love in others will bring love back my way. God says we can’t outsmart Him in this – we can’t live however we want (the next verse calls it “sowing to please the sinful nature”) and then pray for crop failure. We reap what we sow.
For Elisabeth, that meant faithfully and sacrificially sowing seeds of the Gospel.
The Promise of the Harvest
The poignantly beautiful promise in Psalm 126 often haunts my thoughts when I am tempted to throw in the towel.
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)
The farmer, weeping over his precious seed. Why weeping? Often times the choice between eating the grain or planting it was one of tremendous significance with life hanging in the balance either way. The seed was desperately needed for eating to sustain life now; the seed was also desperately needed for planting to sustain life later. Another translation calls the seed “precious” – costly. Expensive. Difficult to just stick under dry clods of earth and trust to the weather to make good on the costly investment. Buying it perhaps meant buying nothing else, until the harvest.
She also knew the Promise of the Harvest that says the depth of our sorrow and travail will be matched by the height of our overflowing joy. She was willing to sow in tears and trust that the reaping with songs of joy was coming.
The more difficult the sowing, the more wonderful the reaping.
The Process of the Harvest
The expanse of time between sowing and reaping can feel like an eternity. What do you do when the waiting seems endless?
Embrace the Process of the Harvest. The process may be long, but the results are sure if we hang in there.
Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)
This word “weary” means more than just getting tired as we labor for the kingdom. In the original language (which I do NOT know, but I have Bible study tools! Yay!), it implies a failing of heart.
We all get tired, but we can choose to remain faithful and guard our hearts against this kind of weariness that would abort our faith.
When circumstances give NOTHING to believe in – not even a glimmer of hope – we can trust the process. At the proper time, we will receive a harvest if we do not give up.
No harvest is promised to quitters. Click To Tweet
We must see the process through to completion.
Perhaps that is what kept Elisabeth in Ecuador. After all, her husband and others gave their lives for that harvest. If she quit now, what would become of their sacrifice?
We can learn much from these verses and Elisabeth’s inspiring life. We can trust the Law of the Harvest, the Promise of the Harvest, and the Process of the Harvest. Why?
What are you painfully, tearfully toiling over today? A loved one away from God? A heartache no one else knows about? The long process of raising children for His glory and seeing Christ formed in them over time? Dear friend, He sees your tears. The Lord of the Harvest is the Lord of YOUR harvest as well.
May I encourage you today to keep on until harvest time? God knows when “the proper time” is, and the harvest will appear then, and not before. But it WILL appear. Keep believing, keep praying, and keep sowing good seed.
I’m praying that at the proper time you will harvest a bumper crop and know the joy of the reaper.
With faith, hope, and love,