This morning I sit looking at my kitchen counters which are currently bursting with produce from the garden – tomatoes waiting to be dried, zucchini waiting to be cooked, ground cherries, and strawberries waiting to be eaten. And outside the apple and pear trees are bulging with fruit, the big luscious Brandywine tomatoes are finally ripening, beckoning us to make BLTs and beans have dried on the vine ready for winter soups.
The garden can be a little overwhelming at times especially when it is in full production. Even more so if we feel that there is no one to help, which was how I felt a few days ago. But then I sent around an email asking for help. And hey presto we have a garden day at the Mustard Seed House tomorrow and everyone in the house will be out there weeding, harvesting, and enjoying the fun. The kids are so excited and are already living in anticipation of the morning’s activity
As I thought about the garden this morning I could not help but think of Matthew 9:37, 38 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” What I wonder about is the harvest in God’s garden that is overwhelming us because it is ready to be picked but we have not thought to ask for harvesters to help us?
It seems that there are many harvests in God’s garden that can overwhelm us. The fruit in God’s garden is incredibly diverse, and all of it needs a multitude of harvesters. Some of us would immediately think of the need for evangelists to go out and share the good news of the gospel. Others would think of the need to find harvesters to feed the poor, care for the sick and set the oppressed free.
It is one thing to bring fruit to maturity, it is another to bring in the full harvest whether it be in the garden or in God’s world without letting it go to seed or rot. So the question is how and where do we find the harvesters we need? To be honest I am not sure of all the answers and many of us feel that we never have enough help. But I am convinced that though I don’t have all the answers, I do know that unless we ask we will never get any help at all. So here are some suggestions:
- Identify where you need harvesters – I became very aware of this over the summer when I felt I was drowning under a workload too that I could not cope with. We asked ourselves the question what do we want to accomplish in the next year and who do we need to help us accomplish it? Jesus rarely worked alone. He was constantly together with his disciples – his harvesters in a field of plenty
- Be specific when you ask for help – once we had asked ourselves who we needed we developed job descriptions for internship positions and even established a new staff position for a garden manager.
- Get the word out – getting the word out about our needs is always challenging but I suggest starting with friends, community members, and neighbours. Those that are closest to us will usually respond the fastest and the most enthusiastically.
- Share the harvesters and the harvest. A couple of years ago I went raspberry picking with some friends. At the end of the day, we talked about what we had learned. One person mentioned that she found it very hard to leave ripe fruit on the vines and felt she had not done an adequate job unless she had harvested every berry. Then she remembered that she was not the only harvester in the raspberry field that day and it suddenly occurred to her that she needed to leave some of the harvest for those who would come behind her. How often do we feel overwhelmed by the abundance around us because we think it is just for us? Remember you are not the only one called to preach or heal or set people free. Pick only what you can carry, only what you can reasonably consume, only what will not go bad because you have tried to gather too much.
- Pray – As Jesus reminds us we will never see harvesters without prayer. And that again has been my experience this week. Almost before we asked God had prepared an answer and I already have a new assistant to help me in the office.