“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Mt. 9:37; Luke 10:2)
Both Matthew and Luke report this statement of Jesus as he sends out the disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God. Part of God’s plan is to have his followers share with others about their experience with Jesus and the kingdom of God. He calls them as laborers in his harvest.
What happens to a crop that is not harvested? It lies in the field to rot or be eaten by birds and animals. Its intended purpose is not fulfilled. If a grain of wheat, for example, is not gathered and ground into flour to make bread, its purpose and destiny are never realized.
The same thing can happen with people if their hearts and souls do not embrace their creator and his purpose and destiny for their lives. God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)
Like Jeremiah, God has created each of us as a unique human being, distinct from one another, with unique gifts and talents designed for us to carry out his specific will. His destiny for each of us is that we would come to know him as our creator and choose to embrace him and follow his will. If our heart and soul are not harvested for him, we will likely stray from our purpose and destiny.
Fortunately, there have been many harvesters in my life including my parents, a priest who guided me in my Catholic faith when I was a teenager, my wife whose example and words prompted me to go deeper in my relationship with God, and various Christian friends who have called me on to be more faithful and fervent in my walk.
The more important question is whether I have served as a harvester for others. Hopefully, I have had an impact on my wife as she has on me and on my children as well. Hopefully, I have acted on opportunities to talk or pray with friends or work colleagues as they have occurred over the years.
I am reminded of one incident many years ago when my secretary suggested that a women in our legal department talk to me about her intention to have an abortion. I listened at length to all of the difficult circumstances she was facing. I didn’t tell her what she should do, but commented that the baby she was carrying was a real person with little arms and legs to whom God had already assigned a soul. I offered to pray with her, and we prayed that God would give her wisdom and courage in making her decision. A couple of weeks later she came by to say that she was going to have the baby, and later she decided to raise the baby as a single mother.
Sixteen years later she told me at a reception for my retirement that her son would not be alive today if it were not for that conversation. While I don’t know if she became Christian, I do know she chose life for her son, and perhaps two souls were harvested for God.
How have you been a laborer for the harvest?