In my bedroom I have two prints on my wall that were painted by the artist Millet. In the first picture, a man and a woman are praying in a field, with heads reverently bowed, and in the far distance is a church steeple. Behind the women is a wheelbarrow and next to the man is a pitch fork, standing upright in the soil. It looks like the couple have just harvested a crop of potatoes and are thanking God for His provision. They put in the back-bending labour, but God sent the rain, provided the sun and caused the potatoes to grow. In the second picture three women are bent over gleaning in a recently harvested wheat field. They’re picking up that which was missed by the harvesters, just like Ruth did in the Old Testament narrative.
When I researched on Google the inspiration behind Millet’s paintings, I was disappointed to discover that my interpretations were not correct. Apparently he was not a ‘religious man’ but was simply catching on canvas the life of the peasants who worked the land. There is definitely an agricultural theme though and a good reminder of the words of Jesus concerning bringing in the harvest. As I travel to Eastern Europe, I’m aware that there’s a vast harvest field before me that faithful men and women of God have previously ploughed, sowed and watered with many prayers. Perhaps you were one of these people. Like the disciples in today’s scriptures, I hear Jesus saying to me ‘I send you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work and you have reaped the benefits of their labour’ (John 4:38).
The bible tells us that both the reaper and the sower perform vital functions though, and will be rewarded according to their labour (1 Corinthians 3:8). Both are God’s fellow – workers. Without the harvesters, the harvest would rot in the fields, but without the sowers, there would be no harvest to bring in the first place. More importantly without God, both efforts would be futile! Whatever role you’re called to play in ‘bringing in the sheaves’ do it with all your might for nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Prayer: Father God, some of us are called to sow, some are called to reap, and some will do both. We gratefully acknowledge that without You there’ll be no harvest. Thank You that You allow us to partner with You in bringing in the sheaves. To You, and You alone, be all the glory, honour and praise. Amen.
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