by Dena Douglas Hobbs
Scripture passage: Luke 10:1-3
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Go on your way.’”(NRSV)
“The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”
My mom grew up on a family farm in South Georgia. Her father grew crops every year and every summer my mom worked in the fields helping her dad harvest the crops. PaPa didn’t have the money to pay a farmhand to help him work in the fields and, as second eldest of five girls, my mom was automatically drafted as one of the chief farm laborers.
My mom would tell me about these summers in the field often when I was a child. I was a city kid who didn’t have a clue about farm life, and mom was more than glad to fill me in. She talked about pulling peanuts up from the ground, shaking off the dirt, and loading them into a bag she carried along behind her. As she would come to the end of the row and almost be finished filling her bag with peanuts, she would see a new row and a new bag waiting to be filled. By the end of the day she would be covered with dirt and bone tired. But the peanuts were easier than the cotton. The cotton would prick your fingers and make them raw. Cotton meant money, though, and money meant new shoes and clothes for the next school year, so she would pick the fluffy white bowls carefully from the sharp-edged leaves that held them and press on, row by row.
Looking back on my mom’s days as a farm hand, I mostly think of what hard work it was. Especially for someone who was not fully grown.
When I read the first verses of Luke 10, my mother’s childhood comes to mind. Jesus is asking for people to do hard, sometimes even painful work. Why? Because there is so much work that needs to be done. Sick to be healed, outcasts to welcome, and God’s kingdom to proclaim.
Oftentimes I’ve heard this verse used in an evangelistic context, referring to the many people who need to hear the gospel. This is true. But I think that is only part of the point. There is a lot of kingdom work needing to be done. There are still sick folks in need of healing, outcasts in need of welcome, and much, much justice work to be done.
The fields are so full of potential. But God needs some good hard workers who are willing to deal with long and sometimes painful days. And the more laborers the Lord has, the faster and easier things will get done. If only we can join together and work the fields row by row by row, a rich harvest will come.
-When you look around you, what do you see that needs to be done? Both in your own life and that of the kingdom?
-What is the best work you could do for God’s kingdom?
-Who might you buddy with to get this work done?
Pick a chore to do together. See how much easier work is when everyone lends a hand.
O Lord, we are so humbled
that you call us
to work for your kingdom.
Grant us courage to do the work
we know needs to be done
and the strength to keep going
when times are hard.
Help us to work together
to the blessing of your people
and the glory of your name. Amen.