Thursday, November 01, 2012

THE MINNESOTA WAY


I AM A BORN AND RAISED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BOY, and for the most part pretty proud of that fact. I was raised when there were still numerous orange groves in Orange County along with walnut orchards and acres of strawberry fields.  Even in suburbia almost every home had one or two fruit trees of various varieties and of course manicured lawns bordered by expanses of low-laying ivy. (Oh, how I hated weeding the ivy; way too many snails for my liking lurking below those waxy green leaves!)

I was not a farmer by any stretch of the imagination, but I did know how things grew. You tilled up the soil, planted the seeds and then turned the sprinklers on, and voila, things grew!  You don’t have to live in California very long before you understand how dependent we are on irrigation systems. Dams, canals, ditches, and pipes provide the vast amount of water we need to turn California into the land of bounty that it is.

Back in the late 1980’s I had the God-given opportunity to move from the golden state of California to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” more commonly referred to as Minnesota. I moved from now concrete-covered La Mirada (home to Biola and theFighting Eagles!) to the dark-earthed farming community of Cokato, Minnesota, (pop. 2,000, counting the fish in the local lakes.)  I had LOTS to learn about REAL farming, especially the planting and raising and harvesting of seed-corn. Did you know that there are male and female corn plants? It’s hard to explain so you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

One of the first things I learned as I followed the process of pulling rocks from the tilled soil, to planting of corn seeds, to the de- tasseling of the corn stalks , to the fall harvest, was that Minnesotan farmers do not irrigate their fields. They till, plant, weed, de-tassel and wait for the good Lord to send the rain, praying all along that the right amount would fall at the right time. Minnesota farming is a mixture of hard work and prayer.

As we enter our season of harvest and a time of thanksgiving for the bounty with which we have been blessed, my mind is drawn to the Lord Jesus’ words, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38) This year we have been praying for a rich harvest for the Lord. We even placed a number on it of 350 new souls brought under the grace of the Lord and into His kingdom. Thus, far It does not look like the harvest will meet with our expectations. To be honest, it is a little discouraging to this pastor and thus, I have been asking myself the question of “Why?”

Did we fail to till the soil well? Did we fail to plant enough seed? Did we fail to keep the weeds at bay? Did we fail to water the soil? It was that last question that got to my heart. As a California Christian I “farmed” like we farm in California. We till, we plant, we weed, we water, we harvest. But I see now that my Minnesota farming friends understood something about farming that I forgot (maybe many of us forgot) it is the Lord who sends the rain of His Spirit which causes the seed to germinate and grow. We think that we can do it all. We have the right ideas, motives and programs (those things that carry the water), we trust in our own ability to irrigate the fields, sadly leaving trust, faith and hope out of the equation.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, that he planted and Apollos watered it, but it was the Lord who caused the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6) 

For me, personally, it comes down to the area of prayer. How bruised are my knees from attending to the matter of fervent prayer for the Lord’s harvest here in our valley. Honestly? Not as much as I should. Did my lack of faith-driven fervent prayer hinder the harvest? I don’t know the answer to that question. Is it too late to pray for the harvest? NEVER! For I would say, as did our Lord, “Jesus said to them ,’My food is that I do the will of the one who sent me and complete his work.  Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months and the harvest comes’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest already. The one who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, in order that the one who sows and the one who reaps can rejoice together.  For in this instance the saying is true, ‘It is one who sows and another who reaps.’  I sent you to reap what you did not work for; others have worked, and you have entered into their work.’” (John 4:34-38)

In this month of giving thanks, I call each of us to go our knees for those needing to come to know the Lord as their Lord, Savior and God. As we look forward to the celebration of our Lord’s first advent, let us join hearts in praying for a bountiful harvest to present to Him when He returns to take home those that are His. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) The Lord is faithful and He will do it. (Psalm 111; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

So, let us pray!
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