October 6, 2018 | by: Tom Kruggel | 0 comments
DAYS ARE DRAWING SHORTER, nights growing longer; the chirping of crickets fainting, with the singing of birds flying away. A brisk has fallen into the morning air. The breeze feels afresh. “For everything there is a season…” [Ecclesiastes 3:1a ESV].
Autumn’s arrived just as sure as the setting sun. And with it comes dormancy of life and all its beauty to behold, with the green of leaves fading into a brilliance of their colored array, priming the tree for Winter’s impending bitterness. If that weren’t breathtaking enough, there’s a cornucopia of crops ready unto harvest; ripening is at its peak.
Do we not know that yet, “‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?” [John 4:35a ESV] Now is the time, Jesus said, to raise our heads and take notice, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” [John 4:35b ESV] Thus does Autumn bring– a completion of plowing, scattering, watering, tending, watching, waiting… for that masterly moment, the moment of maturation unto cultivation.
What our eyes can gaze upon fills them with wonder right about now, but the filtered lens that Jesus affords draws an Autumn brilliance far more eye-catching. Because in similar way that He redirected the fisherman’s vocational vision to men (“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 ESV), so He redirects our harvesting vision to men. And when that focus switches, o’ what a greater glory to grasp.
Seasons have rhythm, are predictable and run a course. Prior to Fall there’s sowing, and during Fall there’s reaping. Apples are crisp this time of year, and the grapes and pumpkins are plump. It’s time to pick, and it took a whole season to get to this point. Not so with men, not when it comes to mission and gospelizing. Jesus says we Christians ought not view human hearts that are void of nourishing-truth as being subject to fixed patterns or certain timing.
We don’t know when the wind will blow or from which direction it may come. It’s mysterious and unpredictable. A sailor is utterly helpless without it, totally dependent upon it– otherwise he’s what’s known as “dead in the water”, destitute in the doldrums. The Spirit does likewise. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” [John 3:8 ESV], said Jesus. Mankind is helpless without it, totally dependent upon it.
Faith in Christ is mysterious and comes unpredictably, it is a supernatural work of the Spirit [cf. John 3:6]. But “… faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” [Romans 10:17 ESV] So “How… will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” [Romans 10:14 ESV] The Apostle Paul says preachers that gospelize are needed. But we’re all the farmer’s tools for a harvester’s Autumn that never ends. With a view to the unharvested, we ought all say to our God, “Here I am! Send me.” [Isaiah 6:8b ESV]
Yes, we live our lives and breathe our breath in cadenced seasons, with a beginning and an end. That’s our earthly reality. And there’s another one to come. It’s going to get cold, but also filled with the warmth of holidays. Within its austere is an aroma of family, of community, of thanksgiving, of charity and of hope.
Human hearts are uniquely ripening right about now. And it’s time, now more than ever, especially since we “do not know what tomorrow will bring”;’ [James 4:14a ESV] or whether there will even be another season, to gospelize. “… lift up your eyes, and see” [John 4:35b ESV], said the Master, be expectant and on the lookout because “… the fields are white for harvest.” [ibid.] See what God has done… and see what God is doing.
It’s been said that, “Many unbelieving Christians have a very large stock of reasons for not expecting too many conversions.”[Spurgeon, Charles. Fields White for Harvest. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon #706, July 29, 1866.] Indeed. What’s ours? Ashamedly, when it comes to mission and evangelism, it’s all too easy to gaze away because the time may not seem right. Perhaps the bearing fruit just isn’t visible. So our eyes look elsewhere, and we get our full satisfied by another thing.
All the while the souls of men are waiting to be seen and to be satisfied with the only thing. One captures but for a moment, and the other an eternity. And even more ashamedly, fear can easily beguile a Christian heart, making it weak when strength is right at hand (“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16a ESV). The gospel is power, the “dunamis” (Greek), the miraculous, behind the harvesting. Supernatural it is, more than any temporal Autumn can bring. Believe it.
Let’s stop looking elsewhere. Lift up your eyes and see. It’s time to take hold of the power tool, the gospel and, especially this time of holiday year, let it do its work through our mouths. It’s always Autumn and “… the fields are white for harvest.” [John 4:35b ESV]
Thomas Kruggel is a non-vocational Elder at Grace Bible Church,
and works in the City of San Francisco.