As the end of the summer approaches many Christian festivals will be drawing to a close and our minds will be turning towards the Autumn. If we are farmers, growers and producers, we will also be focussing on the season of Harvest, the time when what has been sown will be reaped.
Most of the Christian festivals that take place during the year, have a desire to see a Harvest. Each festival will have had the intention to sow seeds into the lives of those attending. Hoping that there will be growth in personal relationships with Jesus but also praying that the fruit of the Spirit will develop and blossom equipping people to facilitate positive transformation in the places where they live.
I love the change of seasons. I often get asked which is my favourite season and my answer is always, all of them, because the life-cycle of nature, to me, is utterly glorious. I adore God’s creation and as I’ve immersed myself in our world, I’ve appreciated some of the natural laws in God’s universe that hold it all together.
God has written natural laws into His creation. These can be discussed and debated but these laws are pretty much immutable, they can’t change. If we jump up into the air, we will quickly discover, as we fall back to the ground, gravity. The law of gravity exists no matter how much we may want to change it or fight against it. As a woman of a certain age, I have discovered the toll that this particular natural law takes on my body. I am acutely aware that what used to point up now points down, I am constantly trying to fight it!
The law of the Harvest, reaping what we sow is another of these natural laws. There are certain principles within the law of the harvest, the law of sowing and reaping that again are immutable and cannot change. If we are to grow in our faith and be faciliators of change in our villages, towns and cities then we need to be mindful of the way these laws, our Creator put in place, work.
First, we can only reap what we sow. In Genesis 1 God says He ordered everything to produce “according to their kind”. This law dictates that we can’t sow poppy seeds and produce oak trees.
Galatians chapter 6 verses 7 & 8 reads: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A person reaps what they sow. The one who sows to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
The Message interprets these verses as “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, they will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God—harvests a crop of weeds. All they’ll have to show for their life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in them, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.”
We can’t sow evil and produce good. We can’t sow meanness and produce kindness. We can’t sow anger and produce peace. We can’t sow unhappiness and produce joy. We can’t sow bigotry and produce unity. We can’t sow intolerance and produce inclusivity. We can’t sow lies and produce truth. We can’t sow sin and produce holiness. The law of the harvest says that sooner or later the choices we make will have consequences.
We can choose what we sow and choose what we want to reap. But we need to earnestly and prayerfully consider what we want that to be.
Second, we reap in a different season than the season we sow in. There is a time for everything, which teaches us that we can’t rush or force the laws of God. There’s a right time to do things, a right season.
If we plant in the wrong season the seed will either grow poorly or die and not grow at all. If we try to harvest the crop too soon, the crop is weak and not mature. If we harvest to late the crop is spoilt. We have to sow and reap at the appointed time, in the right season.
We live in an instant culture – in many ways we’ve forgotten how to wait, everything is so quick. I used to write a letter and wait days if not weeks for a reply, nowadays email means I can have a reply in minutes.
This instant expectation can have an effect on our relationship with God. It can affect what we produce for Him and the fruit He wants to produce in us. Because of this expectation we can sometimes run ahead of God, trying to make things happen our way and in our time.
Rome was not built in a day. Trees don’t grow overnight. Athletes don’t become marathon runners in a week. I’m not going to be a size 12 as soon as I start eating healthily!
I truly believe that waiting for God’s timing allows Him to work out His purposes for us in the most wonderful way. It gives Him opportunity to build our faith, to mature our gifts, to develop our characters, to grow His fruit. We then reap and harvest the benefits at the right time, His time.
Third, there is something quite wonderful about the Kingdom of God and His laws. One of these wonders is that we reap more than we sow. Five loaves and two small fish were used by Jesus to feed a crowd of 5,000.
The law of the harvest dictates that what is reaped is always greater than the seed that was planted. One small apple seed grows into a large tree full of apples.
In God’s Kingdom, one small act of generosity can release great tenderness, one small act of kindness can soften a hard heart, one small act of forgiveness can break strongholds.
Finally we can’t do anything about last year’s harvest but we can do something about this year’s.
If last year’s harvest failed. Learn, move on and make this year’s harvest better. The cycle of life proves that the seasons repeat, so there is always a new opportunity to improve. The best crops are often grown after years of poor or failed growth because the farmers have learned what works and what doesn’t, failure has proven what environment causes the crop to fail but also in which environment the crop thrives and flourishes.
God is wanting to partner with us to help us grow and become our best selves, through His Spirit He wants to sow into us all that He is: love, joy, mercy, justice, goodness, faithfulness. He wants us to then sow those seeds into the lives of others so they too can be all that they were created to be. What a bounty we could reap if we sowed the right seed at the right time in the right place and what an absolute delight to get to participate, enjoy and celebrate such a harvest. A life changing harvest of real life, abundant life, eternal life.
Mandy Bayton is The Cinnamon Network Advisor for Wales and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @mandyebayton