Monday, January 9, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: The Harvest

The Work of the Laborers
A devotional by Aubrey Taylor

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 
–Luke 10:2 (ESV)

On a recent trip to Germany, we stayed overnight in the home of a missionary couple living in one of Europe’s many wine growing regions. Renting their living space from a farmer who grows grapes for a co-op vintner has afforded this couple an opportunity to see the Bible’s agricultural metaphors come alive.

There is a special edition wine sold by the vintner for which the grapes must be hand-picked. Though the machine is far better at sorting out the unusable grapes from the good ones, the hand-picked edition is considered choice wine!

The Bible books of Psalm, Deuteronomy, and Jeremiah all tell us that God’s mighty hand and His outstretched arm do His work for Him. He clearly does not need us to do His work in the world, yet do we realize that He desires to use us?

Do we understand that our work is valuable to Him?

We need not to fear that our work is imperfect. God knows our frame. He looks at the heart behind our efforts, and perhaps it is there where He reminds us that the work is ultimately His. Yet He rejoices to partner with us in it.

My husband and I learned a lot about partnering together on this trip. He made high-level decisions such as taking three weeks off from work, spending time away from our children and investing money to seek God’s will for our lives. Meanwhile, he gave me free reign to go to the places I felt God had placed on my heart. Places that would appear in my writing. Places with church groups who were willing to meet and pray with us, and where we could mutually encourage one another. My husband drove over 2,000 miles in a country that is roughly the size of Montana while I navigated. Sometimes things went awry or didn’t work out, yet he didn’t berate me about it. We just picked up and continued, having learned something.

As I continued to turn the metaphor of the hand-picked grapes over in my mind, I was reminded of how my children will not eat grapes that look a little funny. I’ve selected these grapes from the bunch, washed them and put them on a plate. I know they are fine, however, my child refuses to eat them. How many people are there out there whose lives could become sweet wine, but we are afraid to reach out to them, like my kids refusing the grapes that look funny?

How convicted I am that so often, we try to mold people into what we believe they should look like as Christians, or reject them if they don’t fit that mold. There have been times when I felt it was my duty to tell a person how to live, rather than trusting the Holy Spirit to speak to and convict them. Of course, it is important that new believers receive discipleship, but have we been overbearing and careless, actually driving people away from God rather than toward Him?

Have we been driven away ourselves, attending church from week to week but never truly feeling like we measure up to the standard?

Have we been reluctant to enter into a ministry to which God has called us, simply because the people are too rough, or come from the proverbial other side of the tracks?

This is where the Lord’s work comes in. It is not the standard of other Christians we should be striving for. It is perhaps not even the standard that is held out by our teachers. Although we deeply respect them, they get it wrong sometimes too. God desires to commune with us personally through His Word, for He alone sets the standard. God’s Holy Spirit is able to show us where we have erred, and to lead us back to the correct path.

God loves those who have strayed, those who are so rough that we are afraid to look at or touch them. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. If God has called us to minister in a place where there are many who are sick, He will equip and protect us to do so.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for loving me as I am. Continue to make me more like You. I humbly ask You to open my heart further, so that I may consider where I might serve You in a way I haven’t thought of before. Help me love those whom I have been afraid to. Further, Lord, may it not be me alone. I pray for many laborers to be sent forth into Your vineyard throughout the world. I acknowledge that the work is ultimately Yours, but thank You that You have asked each of us to partner with You in that. We look forward to seeing Your work completed. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “I Will Go” (song) by Steve Green. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

The only child of a single parent, Aubrey Taylor filled her younger years by creating characters and writing stories. This ended around age sixteen when music, friends and part-time jobs began to fill her time. After that came college, work, marriage, and children.

It wasn’t until the world was beginning to come out of the COVID pandemic that God led her back to her love for writing, coupled with a passion she’d always had for history. It was time to start a new adventure! Her current long-term project is Gott Mit Uns, a German-perspective 20th century historical fiction series.

Aubrey lives in Upstate New York with her husband and three children. She’s busy keeping the home, caring for her family, doing research for and writing her books.

Aubrey enjoys music and is involved with the worship ministry at her church as well as a German choral group. She also plays gigs occasionally with friends as a singer and acoustic guitarist. After all that, she finds time to sketch, craft, and hike.

She is a lover of Jesus Christ, The Holy Bible, history, German culture, tea, and cats.

Aubrey has a special heart for those who struggle with severe anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Connect with Aubrey:

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