The Harvest of a Patient Life of Faith
Walking along the raised path, hands aching as he grips the staff of his shovel, Abdul Wali surveys his field, having planned out the day’s work weeks ahead of time. As he walks among the waist high grape trellises, dust clung to his feet and clothes like the darkness shrouds the night sky. Astutely he takes account of previous watering cycles and begins the arduous and necessary work of pruning vines, removing weeds, and channeling water from one section of his field to another. The days are long and hot, the work painful and slow. Abdul knows that patient endurance will lead to a fruitful harvest in the early fall.
Characteristics of the Hard-Working Farmer
In II Timothy 2:7 the Apostle Paul provides the final portrait of the Christian life, the hard-working farmer. Timothy and the early Church would have been just as familiar with the analogy of farming as they were with the other portraits Paul has used thus far. The vast majority of Mediterranean civilizations in the first century were agrarian, that is, the economy was based on producing and maintaining crops and farmland.
To ensure the survival of one’s family required a number of crucial characteristics.
- Preparation: Prior to each phase or season, the farmer had to prepare the ground, the crop, and themselves for each phase of production.
- Persistence: The irregularity of annual rainfall meant crop failure was a regular problem. Wheat crops might have failed once every four years while barley crops once every ten years.
- Patience: The difficulty of the work and the potential for catastrophic failure meant the farmer must patiently endure preparing, planting, and cultivating his crop in hopeful anticipation of yielding a harvest.
Eagerly Anticipate a Fruitful Harvest
While we no longer live in an agrarian society, the analogy still provides encouragement and an example to employ in our daily lives as Christians. In fact, James wrote that our hearts should be strengthened as we wait patiently for the Lord. That we should follow the example of the farmer who “waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Unlike the farmer whose crops were dependent on physical elements, our fruitfulness is dependent on the work of Christ. Jesus encouraged His disciples saying, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Are you patiently working towards the hope of a fruitful harvest in Christ? Are you persisting in faith, regardless of the setbacks you might face?
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Dennis Call joined the Army as an infantry officer shortly after the 9/11 attacks on our country, serving fourteen years on active duty. During his Army service, Dennis deployed for thirty-three months to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror. Prior to joining the Army Dennis served as the Director of College Ministries at First Baptist Church in Texico, N.M. where he mentored students at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M. Dennis and his amazing wife Katie live in Colorado Springs, CO with their five children (four boys and one super sweet daughter).