Happy New Year. A sentiment spoken by nearly every person in existence simultaneously during the course of a single day each year. It represents such a breath of newness to so many. For those whose year was full of challenges and hardship its an opportunity to start fresh, to leave the past behind and look to a brighter future. For those whose year was full of blessing and triumphs, it’s an opportunity to steward that and believe for a continuation of it.
One thing is consistent. It’s a time to seek God about what’s in store for this new year of our lives. A new book, with 12 new chapters. As the vibe of the New Years party and the excitement of entering into a new year wears off just a week later, we’re left asking ourselves some variation of the question: “What now?”.
2017 has been particularly challenging for me when it comes to identifying God’s will for certain areas of my life. I am blessed to say I have an amazing job that impacts the world around us more than I could ever fully know. But God doesn’t call us to be just a 1-dimensional people. He wants to move in and guide every aspect of our lives if we’ll let Him in. He wants to work in and guide our marriages, parenting, vocation, avocation, ministry, finances, friendships, health and more.
As Christians, we often love the verses in the Bible like Isaiah 43:18-19: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” It just sounds so exciting, fresh and inspiring, doesn’t it? If you’re like me, however, you’re left wondering exactly WHAT this new thing is that he’s doing in my life. How do I know what it is? What area of my lift will it show up? Is there something I can do to prepare? How do I actually discern it?
I was reminded this month about a concept that is both encouraging and confusing. A concept discussed by God all throughout scripture. The challenge with this powerful concept is that due to the day and age we live in, very few of us have any first-hand experiences that help us to relate to and understand this concept.
It’s the concept of ‘The Harvest’.
Harvest. There’s just such a punch to it. “Bring in the Harvest!” “The Harvest is plentiful!” It just sounds cool, am I right? I found the challenge rested in my misunderstanding of the concept as a whole. Although I did grow up farming grass seed and working a harvest season to bring in the crop, it never really hit home until recently, what it was actually all about.
For those of you who have never farmed, which I’m guessing is the overwhelming majority of the people reading this, Harvest is simply put: hard work.
During the harvest season, you have a very short window of time where you will get up earlier than any other time of the year, work long, grueling days in the hottest days of the year. You’ll miss out on social activities as your friends go out at night, attend sporting events, or go to the lake. You’ll get very little sleep and find yourself at times wishing it would just come to an end already. This is all done in faith, believing that the seeds planted and the work done throughout the year to nurture and grow the crop will bring forth great gain and profit.
Farming is an incredible illustration of life. In many traditional forms of farming, the first stage is to plow the field. Prepare the soil. Get it ready to receive the seed.
Once it’s farmed, the ground has to receive the seed, during the right conditions – temperature, moisture, sunlight etc in order for the seed to take root.
After sowing seed, it has to be looked after. Some seasons of the year it’s left to its own to begin to grow, where some seasons require fertilizer and the fending off of vermin and pests that can come in and destroy the crop once it has taken root and begins to bear “fruit”.
However, in every form of farming, there is a harvest season. The season pre-determined by God that the crop will be ready to bring in to the storehouse. The season where if all preparations are properly made, a faithful watch has been conducted over the seeds sown, in faith that they’ll yield the intended crop, you will see a great gain. It will come to pass.
Bear with me here as I land this metaphorical plane for you.
As we venture into 2018 I believe our best approach to discerning what this year holds for us is to prayerfully ask God to help us do an assessment of all the areas of our life to determine a few key things.
God, in the area of finances (marriage, work, ministry etc) what deposits have you entrusted to me that I am to nurture and care for in this current season?
God, are there any areas of my life you desire to do a new thing, to sow a new seed, where the ground must be plowed and the soil must be better prepared?
God, which of these areas do you intend to bring to harvest this season? Where will I need to put in the hard work to bring something to pass that I have been guarding and nurturing these past months/years?
I am of firm belief that God wants to impact every area of our lives this year and He leaves nothing to chance. I believe in every area of our lives he is going to call you to do one of the following: Plow/prepare, receive a deposit/seed, nurture/guard/protect, or to Harvest.
In John 4:35 Jesus references seasons and harvest yet again.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
Although the context here is for something slightly different, what it does point to is that our God operates the world in seasons. Fighting against His seasons will usually only end in pain or frustration. If it’s winter and 28 degrees outside but you say “I don’t want it to be winter, I want it to be summer” and you go outside with a tank top, swim trunks and flip-flops on, you’ll still freeze.
His plan is always greater and as we yield every area of our lives to Him, He will make it clear to us what kind of season we are in, in each of these areas.