The third harvest

YOU reap what you sow. That is, every decision in life has it’s consequences. This brings me to the realization of the three harvests that occur in life.

THE FIRST HARVEST

This is the stage when I am far from God. I live by my own rules and for myself. On the outside I might be seen as good or bad. On the inside though, there’s an emptiness.

Even if I’m a “good” man by nature, the absence of recognizing God has a lasting effect. It may hide in deep, complex layers, but it’s there – godlessness.

The unbeliever – in the end – is their own god. Ultimately, they answer to no one.

So I sow the bad seed, and I reap the fruit of that seed. The first harvest is death. It’s self-centered and sinful. Again, on the outside it may vary, but inside I think it’s all the same.

I remember my first harvest. I believed I had it all under control. It was a sad and desolate time in my life.

Then God shows up.

THE SECOND HARVEST

Jesus reaches down and pulls you out of the pit of despair. He washes and heals your wounds. You are clean and new in the eyes of God.

You’re kind of shocked and confused. Or maybe brimming with enthusiasm.

Everything should be just fine, right?

Did you forget? During the first harvest, you continued to plant the bad seed. Now it’s time for the second harvest.

This is an especially difficult time, as you do your best to walk in the ways of the Lord. Still, the consequences of the first stage must play out.

The fruit of the second harvest is bitter.

Untying the knots in your soul is painful, ugly, messy, bloody. But it must happen. It must unfold.

And it challenges your faith. You ask:

“God, if I believe in you and seek you, why this?”

“What am I doing wrong?”

“Is it really worth believing? Have I made a terrible mistake?”

Like the parable of the sower of seeds (Matthew 13), the birds, rocky ground and thorny thicket do their best to steal, dry and choke your faith. Still, you remember the horror of the first harvest.

So  you hang on with all your might. You dig a trench, bandage your wounds and rise up to fight again. You advance into into the battle. Bullets whiz by your head, and some even strike you.

But none are fatal.

You’re clumsy, awkward, afraid… but by grace you do your best to be an authentic disciple of Christ.

And somehow, someway, you keep going.

The battles are tremendous! The hardest ones are the internal struggles against old demons that don’t want to go quietly. You know them well. There’s the gnashing of teeth and the gouging of eyes. You fight 10 battles to win 1.

You pray. You feed on the Word. You commune with the Body.

And one-by-one, the victories of Christ begin to pile up in your favor.

And slowly, you learn to trust God.

This process molds you. It gives you a solid character. It prepares you for the third stage.

And remember, during this second bitter harvest you’ve been sowing the good seed.

THE THIRD HARVEST

Now, the good fruit begins to appear. Now, consequences are favorable.

Here, you reach a level of maturity and stability. Your original, exaggerated enthusiasm is slowly replaced by a deep seated love in your soul.

You have answers to things you never even knew were important before. God’s Spirit has given you a more profound vision.

You suffer as you see the darkness of sin. And due to this, you are tempted more to judge and condemn. Satan presents this ability to you and many take the bait. I have.

Still, the harvest that went before battle-hardens you. You expect the long campaigns. Defeat – you’ve learned – is the door to growth.

And once you’ve been broken enough, God has something reasonable to work with. He puts you to even greater tasks. He reveals to you even darker demons that shame and terrify you, but you call upon the Giant Killer…

…and the Lord lays them low.

And you begin to know peace.

Meanwhile, there are moments of pure bliss, even ecstasy in the presence of God. It could be in prayer, but it might even manifest in a quiet, peaceful dinner conversation – where in the past there was only howling and rage.

Your soul dances upon clouds with angels.

No. You aren’t even close to perfect. But you have moved closer to Jesus. And that is always good enough.

Could there be a Fourth Harvest? After reaping the good and planting even more good seed, what then?

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Matthew 13:23

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