Our harvest season has now entered the “back to school” phase. In contrast to the summer season that offers a lot of scheduling flexibility with volunteer groups, a much higher proportion of the harvest must now occur on the weekends or evenings now that students are at their desks.
Despite a lot of specific prayer, the Lord doesn’t always schedule completely sunny dry days on Saturdays and Sundays. This is particularly important for us, as our major fall crop is potatoes. Notwithstanding well-drained ground with lots of rocks, our season continues to provide a seemingly endless supply of rain; 5 inches of it just this past weekend alone. Any potato farmer knows that harvesting potatoes through a sea of mud is not helpful to anyone. With more than two thirds of our potato harvest still to go, the “worry meter” among some of our gang is beginning to move into the red zone.
This past weekend was a perfect example. After a slow volunteer week, due to the beginning of school, we were anticipating a large group of helpers on Saturday. Ground conditions were decent in the potato field, so all the equipment was moved to that field in preparation. In the early morning hours of Saturday, an inch of rain derailed our plans. We began to worry. What if the volunteers don’t show up? What if the other options, such as tomato or corn picking, aren’t doable either? What if, what if, what if? Fortunately, the rain stopped for several hours, dozens of volunteers showed up, and we were able to harvest thousands of pounds of tomatoes and peppers as a “Plan B.” Praise the Lord, indeed.
As the volunteers left, our regular gang of core volunteers began to talk about what had just happened. Farming involves a lot of uncertainty. There is truly a lot to plan for, think about and, most importantly, pray about. Sometimes there is a great temptation to look backward and argue about what could have been done differently. Sometimes, there is a great temptation to worry about what might happen in the future. Neither of these, a focus on the past or the future, is particularly fruitful.
The theologian Henri Nouwen, in his famous book, “Here and Now,” opines that Satan wants us distracted by the past and the future. Whether trapped by the guilt of the past or the worries of the future, such distractions prevent us from living in the moment.
He says, “The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs.’ They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now. God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard, easy, joyful, or painful. When Jesus spoke of God, he always spoke about God as being where and when we are. … God is not someone who was or will be, but the one who is, and who is for me in the present moment. That’s why Jesus came to wipe away the burden of the past and the worries of the future. He wants us to discover God right where we are, here and now.”
In a later chapter, Nouwen encourages us that radical trust in God is rooted in the discipline of prayer; of being in daily conversation with the living God.
The apostle John in his first letter reminds us that, “By this we know that we abide in him and he is us, because he has given us of his Spirit. …Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. ... God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. … There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1st John 4: 13-18).
Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 tells us, “… do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? ... But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Each day has its own opportunities and challenges for ministry. It demands our full attention. And thanks be to God, we can do so with the full confidence that comes from these wonderful words of confirmation from the Lord: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27-28).
This peace allows us to approach the past without regret, the uncertain future without fear, and the present with the absolute faith that the Lord has ordained our steps, is with us, and will sustain us no matter what circumstances we might encounter. We serve a faithful and awesome God! Onward, Christian soldiers!
This article was originally published on Lancaster Farming.