Seeing the harvest that Jesus sees
Posted on April 25, 2019 by VMMissions Staff
By Carol Tobin
I regularly insist that plants talk to my husband. Evidently, they tell him what they need and then he simply obliges them—a little less sun, an adjustment in the soil, some extraneous shoots removed. It couldn’t be easier.
Likewise, when he looks out of the dining room window to survey the garden, he sees a lot more than I do. He distinguishes the spinach seedlings from the crabgrass. He ruthlessly pronounces judgment on the Swiss chard and counts weeks forward to determine whether there is time to replace the chard with cauliflowers.
With one sweep of his eye, he sees past investment, present challenges, and future promise. I learn a lot when I ask him to show me what he sees.
This is what we do when we pray. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges or exasperated by the complexities—“What do we do? Where do we start?”—we ask, “Lord, what do you see?”
Rather than petulantly insisting on knowing “why” before we venture to do anything more than nurse our own despair, we humbly ask for our Lord’s perspective. Amazingly, our Lord sees a harvest: rich potential, glorious promise. God sees a bountiful yield amidst the weedy tangle of pain, injustice and dysfunction.
Jesus joyfully invites us (who are not unlike those befuddled disciples questioning why he was talking to a Samaritan woman) to “look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest!”
Prayer is this lifting of our eyes; it is me standing next to God at the dining room window, allowing him to instruct me before I go running out to try to do something based on my limited perspective.
God sees past investment, present challenges, and future promise. God sees it all. The Lord of the harvest turns our eyes toward the ways and places where he is at work.
Michael H. prays for workers at a resource event for Ministry Support Teams. Workers in South Asia, he and his wife Ruthy practiced organized prayer as a foundational aspect of their ministry in a large Muslim city. They are currently exploring future ministry assignments. Photo: Carol Tobin
Recently, we invited Michael and Ruthy H. to share insights about prayer with members of Ministry Support Teams who have embraced the call to pray regularly for our workers.
With the aid of a simple sketch of a triangle on the whiteboard, Michael and Ruthy helped us see that prayer is not a matter of looking “over” at the problems and lifting them—often anxiously—to God.
Rather, we first look up at God and then pray “down,” based on what God has shown us from his perspective. We are guided by what is revealed in scripture. We delight in fresh insights given by the Holy Spirit. Our prayers can be infused with joy – based on the faithfulness of God’s past investment, God’s presence in present challenges, and a God’s promise of future glory.
My 92-year-old mother still relishes telling a particular prayer story. She remembers how thirty years ago, after a church mission conference, she was led to pray about “the harvest.” Jesus’ words took on a new weightiness. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.”
She asked; and as she asked, a fervency caught her. She wept as the intensity of this God-given imperative that there be workers came crashing into her heart.
The next day, Skip and I came to divulge what was on our hearts: We sensed a call to go to Thailand. This was not an easy thing for her to hear, as any parent can understand; yet, sustaining her underneath the clamoring protests of personal loss was the wonderment of knowing that this was birthed out of her own prayer connection with the Lord of the harvest. She was more than ready to bless us to go!
May we likewise respond to God’s invitation to look up and out and see what he sees! In particular, may we be led to pray for workers to be sent out into the fields, ripe for harvest!