The hills of Santa Maria are teaming with rolling acres of farmland. Even in June, there were fields in different stages of harvest. It was far from what I expected, but as I listened to the stories from my aunt about the work that her family of origin did in the fields, it took on new interest for me. She talked about how hard the work was, and how my mother quickly found her calling in service away from the harvesting. I could relate to my mom in that, I would much rather serve others than do physical labor.
As we were driving around the community, I asked “What do they do during off-season?” She explained that if the workers were good, there really was no off season as there is always something to do. There are seasonal workers, but the majority of farm hands, if they are good, they are kept on year round.
I grew up and live in a culture that wants immediate results. I want my “fresh produce” all year-long and even if it has to be frozen to meet my needs. My work is only driving to the store and preparing it in the manner I wish to partake. Generally it can be from store to table in less than 30 minutes; whereas signs and menus in Santa Maria touted farm to table options.
As we passed field upon field, I pondered our conversations. I thought about how Jesus spent so much time talking in agricultural terms. I believe that much of that is lost in our culture today. Most people, myself included, don’t have agricultural knowledge. We talk about seeds and harvests, and never think about the time or work between the two.
It is no wonder that there has been a stall in Kingdom progression over the decades. We expect “convert to transformed life” in 10 easy steps, over night success, and immediate results. We don’t say it out right or out loud, but we definitely back up those ideologies with our expectations and unspoken messages. I find myself doing this in my personal life, instead of offering grace for areas where God is still working on me.
As laborers for the Kingdom, we want to see the seed planted spout quickly, but we never consider the layers of soil that it has to breakthrough. I figure if those doing actual work for the food on my table have to labor year round, that it is like God looks for me to do the same. If seeds take time to sprout, I need to give myself and others grace to start seeing change occur.
We want to see growth expediency, but don’t know the growth cycle from germination to fruit. If seedlings take time to grow after sprouting, growth may not happen overnight in my life or those I am ministering to either and fruit may come slowly in some areas. I look at the plants in my home and know sometimes they can look pretty hopeless; with a little care and attention during those times, they usually come back more vibrant.
We want to see reproduction of fruit when we don’t even know how long it needs to be on the vine before harvest. Sometimes reproduction can happen early in the cycle, just based on the excitement and change of a new believer. There are so many factors in reproduction – it is not just dependent on one thing.
I have to often remind myself that after thirty-four years, I am still a work in progress in so many areas. This became so refreshing as I looked out over the fields. Year after year they go through all the cycles from preparation, planting, feeding and watering, growth, harvest, reproduction and repeat. My life goes through those cycles too, just as I help in each of those steps in the life of others. It doesn’t mean I’m broken. It doesn’t mean I’m not making progress or that I am not in relationship. It just means that wherever I am in the stage, it is time to be there and let God work.