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In John 4:35 Jesus said to His disciples, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
It’s important to realize that He said this in Samaria—a place where Jews weren’t welcome and where Jesus had seen only one convert, and that one just a few minutes earlier. In other words, the twelve apostles did not consider Samaria a place where there had been, or likely ever would be, many conversions. And yet Jesus said it was—and by extension the places where we serve Him now are—fields white for harvest.
I wonder if most Christians understand the urgency that is demanded in the expression of, "white unto harvest?" It's not simply an expression of the harvest being ready for us to go out and reap. It's an expression of, "The harvest is ready and time is short! GO! REAP! NOW!"
In the summer before my Grade 12 year in high school, I went on a road trip with my family. It was on that trip that we stopped somewhere in the panhandle of Texas around Amarillo. There in the panhandle of Texas are places where one can stand and see nothing but vast wheat fields from horizon to horizon. During that trip we pulled over at a rest point, and I took in the gently waving fields of grain, but I also noticed the giant combines crisscrossing back and forth across the fields. I recalled that my grandfather, who was a Kansas farmer, used to talk of working during the time of harvest from before sun-up until well after sun-down. It seemed to me that the start of harvest was some sort of declaration of war, demanding urgency and intensity that could not be allowed to abate until the harvest was finished.
As if sensing my thoughts, my dad said to me, "Those machines are built to run twenty-four hours a day with exacting precision so nothing is lost. The men who drive those machines will work in twelve hour shifts both day and night, so that the machines constantly run."
So I asked, "Why do they need to do that, dad?"
He replied, "The time for harvesting is so short, so the farmer has to be right quick about his business. You see, when the wheat turns white then it is fully ripened and ready to be harvested. But it won't stay on the stalk for long. In a very short time, after turning white, it will fall from the stock to the earth. Once it's on the dirt, it's ruined and lost. You have to wait until it turns white, but once white, there isn't a moment to lose!"
I looked back out to the fields and considered the harvesters. Those men working in the wheat fields never stopped their combines. Day and night, twenty-four hours, they drove those machines relentlessly, for the fields were white unto the harvest and the next day the grain could be lying lost on the ground. They were reaping, and they never stopped.
People who need to be won to the Lord are great in number. Countless many within this world are just waiting for someone to say, “We would love to have you; we are interested in you. This is God’s place, and we are God’s people. The Lord meets with us. Come and join us.” Christian, you may think you are in a place here in Kamloops where there is little harvest to be had, where people won't listen to your invitation, where you may think to yourself that it's better to be silent in order to get along with others. As a Canadian living in Kamloops you are never in a place so difficult to reach as a Jew walking through Samaria. The fields are white, the opportunities are great, and God calls you to extend a welcoming hand to the people around us.
There seems to always be reason to delay or procrastinate about sharing the Gospel or inviting those around us to worship with us at church. But it only seems that way. That's why Jesus begins with the rhetorical question, "Don't you say that there are four months yet until the harvest?" The Lord knows that we will find reasons to delay. So he begins with that rhetorical question in order to disarm us of all our self-justified reasons for procrastination. Jesus tells his disciples simply, "Be quick to the work!"
So be right quick!