On the Threshold of Harvest
[Author’s note: Written before the days of the world wide web, this letter was composed for a limited circle of the faithful who had shared many of the same times and experiences in late 20th century middle class America. For those reading this today around the world, especially those of a younger generation, the times have yet changed further and the experiences will not have been the same in the time periods mentioned for many of those living then. But the principles of end time harvest will still apply. May you yet be blessed as you read…..]
January 12, 1990
Dear People of the Lord,
I don't know if you have ever watched a summer harvest before. If you have, you know that as the harvest ripens, changes occur much more rapidly. As the end nears, the time over which changes happen is shortened -- until that narrow time-frame occurs at which ripeness peaks and the fruit must be picked -- or else the entire harvest is lost.
Nature is replete with examples of this process -- everything from growing of fruit, to the changing of autumn leaves, to the birth of babies. Always, a long season of slow, unnoticeable change precedes a quick season of rapid, obvious changes, culminating in that critical, narrow "window of opportunity" for picking fruit or giving birth. It is amazing to consider how short the harvest period is compared to the growing period.
Times of the Human Growing Season
If you understand what I've just said, then you are able to understand the truth about the times in which we live. The processes of the natural earth merely mirror the processes of spiritual reality in the life of man. (Notice how the parables of Jesus concerning the life of man are based in the concept of harvest.) So it is, therefore, concerning the spiritual times and seasons of peoples, nations, generations, and ages.
A people or generation go first through a long period of growing in which there is unnoticeable change, followed by a short season of rapid change and turbulence out of which God's purpose concerning that people is reaped. The only difference between the growing of nature and the growing of a people is the comparative time span. While nature grows over a period of months culminating in a harvest of a few days or weeks, a nation is grown over decades, centuries, and even millennia, to then be harvested over a period of perhaps a few years.
The Time of Human Harvest
The truth about our present times then is this: the increasing and now incomprehensible rapidity of worldwide social change indicates that both mankind and also we, The Church, have entered upon our final season, the end of the age-long "growing season" conceived generations ago, shortly to culminate in what the Bible calls the "harvest of the earth:"
I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like the son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he that was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Rev 14:4-6
The rapid changes we are now beholding correspond to the final rapid changes in nature that precede harvest. We are on the threshold of the harvest of the church and of the world.
Responding to the Harvest Season
Now then. Please consider with me how a farmer responds to his crop near harvest compared to the way he responds during the overall growing season:
During the growing season, a farmer's work is fairly routine. True, there are still things that have to be done on a daily basis. Yet the chores don't change much from day to day. Things are rather predictable over a long period of time. Changes that do occur are infrequent.
But at harvest time it's different. As changes multiply and the "window of opportunity contracts to a few days or weeks for action, a farmer's attitude undergoes a major shift. His mind snaps out of "routine gear" and becomes focused toward harvest. His daily attention becomes increasingly narrowed upon the critical sequence of preparations that have to be made in order for harvest to follow through. He knows the time is come when things have to be done just right in a certain time-frame, and there is not nearly as much margin for error. Mistakes now can cost the entire harvest.
Naturally, a farmer's stress level rises at this time of year also. He re-prioritizes his activities. Social clubs and bingo at the grange may have to wait a couple weeks while he sets out late into the evening on the tractor. As harvest nears, everything else takes a back seat. A major refocus of attention is what happens. (This is also true about having babies. Right, ladies?)
The Call to Refocus
If you understand this, then you can understand what must become true about us as the People of God as we encounter these amazing worldwide changes signaling the imminent harvest of the earth. All of this rapid change demands of us a refocusing of our attention from the routine to the critical. We can no longer look at life through the eyes of our fathers, nor even as we ourselves looked at it in years gone by. The burden of the Lord constrains us to put off the leisure and innocent self-indulgence of our past years so we may become vessels equal to the demands of the times which are now upon us.
The casualness of the growing season is now past. The times in which we used to be able to plan out our futures and that of our children is over. As spiritual farmers, we have to recognize the world harvest season for what it is and be willing to lay aside the "Saturday night bingo" of our original dreams and aspirations. We must be willing to get out into the field at night now.
The Sooner the Better…..
I believe that one of the keys to quick spiritual growth is early recognition of the spiritual times into which one has been horn-again. The sooner after conversion one discerns the spiritual season of the times into which he has been born, the sooner he can come to fulfill his true mission from God in this life. Having said that, I have to confess to my slowness at facing up to the times for what they are. I remember growing up in the 1960's. Life was fun! I enjoyed it. I was brought up in a certain context and I had my heart set on being able to live my life out in that context.
But then the ‘70's came. My desires were smashed. I had to re-adjust my hopes and dreams. The changes began happening to us all. But then the ‘80's came! They reduced to rubble any remnants of the ‘60's I had salvaged in the ‘70's, not to mention the ‘70's themselves. So I readjusted more and more, year by year-- but to no avail. Each year in the 80's destroyed anything I thought I could finally grab from the year before it -- not just materially anymore, but now even spiritually.
The ‘80's taught me I couldn't even count on a certain ministry in life, never mind the upper middle class good-life I had been forced to yield in the ‘70's. For me, the world has never stopped long enough so I could grab it and say, "Here is what I will do with my life!" I have been unable to get a handle on anything materially or socially or even family-wise, and this has brought me frustration and heart-ache no end. The changes have destroyed me.
Understanding Your Times
What's my point? What did I have to learn through all this? Namely, God had to build into me an awareness of the spiritual season for which I was created and for which I was born - and it is the time of harvest.
If I'd been born in the ‘30's or even ‘40's, I could have still cashed my life in on the "growing season" with its predictability. I could have planned out my life and my ministry in some measure.
But no. I was born in the later ‘50's, converted in the later ‘60's, and then forced by the sudden deluge of social changes to "lose my life," being made cognizant of the harvest of this age breaking into the ‘80's and ‘90's -- this harvest for which I was born and ordained to serve.
This is what I mean by discerning the times and becoming equal to the service of God for those times. There is still a dying coal in me that looks back to my childhood, reminding me of the way I wanted it to be. But my heart has to say,
"No, I'm sorry, son. The growing season is over. You were born for harvest time and have been being made equal to it. You must accept this and live in Me according to it. I knew this time was coming long before you were ever brought into the earth. So your having come of age into it is neither an accident nor a misfortune though it has meant the destructions you have faced over your first known worlds."
This leads us to the question, "How can I survive becoming a harvest-season servant?" How can I endure the metamorphosis from a growing-season farmer to a harvesting farmer? How can I cope with all the fast-pace social and economic changes signaling the end of this age? How can I deal with the increased stress level of this narrowed focus? How can I cope with losing my hopes and aspirations conceived during the stable growing season and accept God's call into this yet unknown season of generational harvest? (This is everyone's first experience with this season, you see.)
Surviving Change by the Unchangeable Presence
For me, the answer has been found in maintaining unswerving, final allegiance to that ineffable, indwelling Presence of Jesus Christ within my soul. That inner spiritual awareness has never changed when all else has. That awareness unspeakable has served as my final reference point for truth and reality in every matter of doubt and dispute.
The awareness of the indwelling Presence of Jesus Christ is the one awareness that has never failed to manifest itself to my inner being throughout every change, every issue, every conflict within, and every confrontation without. Through consistent cultivation and communion with Him within, I have been strengthened to withstand every onslaught of the enemy and have been hedged about against every turbulent change this mortal man must yet weather.
When it has come to making a choice between this Presence of God and the way I have wanted life to be, I have by faith surrendered to the Presence every time (-- ultimately, that is). I have chosen God until there was no more choice to make. By this alone I have endured the painful transition from growing season stability to end-time harvest focus with its sense of imminency of world harvest and the limited window of opportunity for reaping it as we close out this millennium.
Keeping the faith of the abiding Presence of God in my life has enabled me to bear the sound of the blowing of the end-time trumpet in my life. It has enabled me to answer its call to not only re-focus on the harvest, but to bear faithfully in stewardship the wisdom and mysteries of God now being released at this season in the Church.
Kept By His Presence
For all of you also, then, I close out this letter by commending you to the keeping of that same indwelling Presence of Jesus Christ. That Presence keeps you as you pass through the metamorphosis from stability to narrow-focused harvest awareness, losing all you have ever counted on having in this life-- even those things promised you by God Himself and by His Prophets.
That Presence keeps you through the passing of every theological and spiritual issue with which you must deal -- keeping you from getting sidetracked by any one of them in particular. The Presence of Jesus keeps you through every relationship change which you must suffer, whether by confrontation, or by divergence of the direction of two lives,
Remember, there is no such thing as being a spiritual "bystander" to the events before us, as if we could somehow witness this season from a safe distance without being touched by it. Like it or not, we are all affected by the turbulence of the generational harvest at hand. So we are either being kept by God's Presence amidst the events, or else we are being carried away downstream with the events. Because the social upheaval strikes us all, we must decide now how we will respond to it.
God is saying,
"I know life is not how you first thought it would be when you caught the end of the growing season. Nevertheless, respond to me for the purpose for which I brought you into the earth at this time."
Keeping the Past in the Past
Personally, I miss the "good times" I had first tasted and continued to dream of since I was young. I kept thinking, "If I can just get through these bad times, I'll be all right and I can get on with my life." But the good times are not coming back. Growing season is over.
The time for careless "eating and drinking and giving in marriage" is over. The time of long-range planning for life and ministry is over. It's harvest time now, and we have to have a harvest mind. And the secret to making the transition to a harvest mind is simple abiding in the Presence of Jesus Christ at the willing expense of everything else. Abiding in His Presence is the only sure means of acquiring the mind that will suit us for the times to which we have been appointed.
I know this is a tall order. But what choice is there? Let's then cast our lot with God, beginning by accepting this end of the generational season to which He has ordained us. Let's allow Him to crucify the dreams we conceived while it was yet growing season, trusting that once harvest is past, the new order He brings forth will produce the resurrection of our lost desires, allowing us to eat and drink in peace the fruits of the harvest.
Continue, then, abiding with me in Christ...
written from Merrimack, New Hampshire
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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