He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Harvest time is an annual opportunity to provide for the rest of the year. It is time sensitive and if missed it leads to poverty. To be lazy during this time is absolute foolishness. Imagine a field just ripe for harvest being left to rot. What a waste! In fact in this proverb we see the son being lazy, not the father. The father would never let his hard work go to waste. He would be out there in the field doing everything he could to bring that harvest in. He planted the seed, prayed for rain and sun at the right times and watched it grow. But for the son there’s less attachment, unless he’s emotionally ‘bought in’ to his father’s business.
I’m not a farmer, but there have been times where I believe my heavenly father has presented a harvest to me, and I’ve known that that season would not last forever. It was a window of opportunity to invest some energy into. One such opportunity was to study for an MA. I am not a natural academic in that I would never naturally read or study without a really good reason. But the opportunity to develop my skills in coaching and consultancy as well as deepen my own understanding of myself and others was dangled in front of me for a moment. I grabbed that opportunity, even though it meant a lot of hard work which was to be done alongside a full time job, not to mention being a husband and father!
What are the harvest times in your life? Maybe you’re studying for exams. They come around at a specific season and if you don’t work during this harvest time you have to wait for the next exam season. But you never get that time back. If you’re heading for exams this year, now is the time to start putting time in. Then you will enjoy a good harvest. If a farmer’s barns are full, he has something to offer the world and it’s the same with passing an exam. If you make the grade because you were ready for the exam, your new qualification will open new opportunities for you to serve. It will allow you to connect to others in a way that you otherwise wouldn’t. Employers, universities, colleagues and peers you would never otherwise have met. You have something new to offer the world because you did not sleep when it was time to work.
What about the harvest time that comes from meeting someone you connect with? Or someone you don’t connect with but you know it will be a valuable relationship if you invest in it. If you recognise the potential in a relationship to help you to the next level, you will have to be intentional. You have to get your calendar out and your phone out and make contact with that person. I have a couple of relationships that would just die in the fields if I didn’t do the work of harvesting what those relationships have to offer. I’ll schedule a phone call or a coffee with one of these people several times a year and when we get together I know I will leave enriched from our conversation. New ideas are shared or one of us has had the opportunity to offload something.
Some of us see a field of opportunity to invest financially. There is always risk, and the money invested is usually something you have worked for, so you don’t want to put it on the line. But God wants you to be blessed. Take good advice, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and sow the seed he instructs. We might think we are sowing but if it’s something God has set up, he’s already done all the preparation, he’s sown seeds in the background and he’s lining you up for an opportunity to reap a harvest. It may not reach your barns tomorrow but in due time you will look back and know that God has had his hand in the process all along.
So why would anyone not take an opportunity? Proverbs 10:5 also talks about sleeping during harvest. Why would you do that? Perhaps you were unaware of the opportunity. Maybe you have doubts as to its value, or maybe there is some other reason behind your sleeping. But harvest time only lasts a season and then the crop is either harvested by someone else or it dies and rots. Look back at seasons where you have been fruitful because of hard work. Remember the reward of investing in that relationship or that opportunity. The bible tells us not to grow weary in doing what is good. Why? Because there is a promised harvest at the end.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
We already know from Proverbs 10 that He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son.
The opening verse of that same chapter states, A wise son brings joy to his father.
I would imagine that in normal circumstances the father would be harvesting too. The wise son would work alongside the father in the field. During harvest time it’s all hands on deck. My friend, who grew up on a vegetable farm, used to tell of how his father would get up and work during harvest even when he was ill. The cauliflowers had to be cut! My friend had no option but to get up and join in the harvest. He didn’t really seem to mind and I know he would work with a greater sense of commitment for his dad than any hired labourer. Not only was it was the family business but his dad, who he loved and respected, wanted him to work. He even helped with the harvest when he had left farming to pursue a career in teaching and had young children. Must have had a very understanding wife! He’d use some of the 6 week summer holidays to help on the farm. He loved his dad. He was committed to his family. Surely this brought joy to his father, to have a son like this.
Where have you brought joy to your heavenly father? Reflect on the past. What opportunities have you seized in order to fill those barns? Revised hard for exams? Taken an opportunity to say sorry to someone you care for? Or just an opportunity to show someone you care?
When we heard our neighbour’s husband was seriously ill, we did everything we could to offer practical help. Prayer was offered too, but that particular harvest season for that relationship was to just show our neighbour that she was more than someone who lived next door.
Whenever you took that opportunity, God was there working with you, like you were the wise son in the field. In fact it was God who provided the harvest. He set the whole thing up and he was the chief worker in the field. You just joined in.
What about the present and future? Where is God calling you to invest your time, money and talent? Where do you see the opportunity? That’s you harvest. It’s easy to spot – God speaks through open doors. Pray that he’ll shut the door if it’s not from him. Then attempt to walk through it.
There are lots of reasons not to do this. A hundred excuses will come into your mind to create barriers to your harvest. But the bible says that the son who sleeps through the harvest, who fails to turn up in the field, brings disgrace on his father. Imagine sleeping during harvest! As Christians we are called to be Christ’s witnesses!
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
2 Corinthians 5:20
What kind of witness is someone who goes into work and tells their colleagues they are a Christian but when they observe their life the non-Christian cannot see any difference between the Christian and themselves? My belief is that in some way every Christian has an opportunity to demonstrate the abundant life Christ came to give them. One of the best ways to demonstrate that is to work with a passion at whatever God gives you to do.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…
But before we judge someone who appears to be sleeping during harvest, they might stay in bed because they’re burnt out, or scared, or damaged by things that have happened before. Sometimes God takes a labourer out of the field so they can rest and recuperate.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
But sometimes we just hit snooze and say we’ll start revising tomorrow, or we’ll get to the harvest field when the conditions are right. We’ll invest in that relationship when we’re less busy. We procrastinate. Because harvesting is hard work! Let’s commit today to acknowledge the open doors we see and be brave enough to walk through them, knowing that our father is already in the field, waiting for us.