Farmers are diligent to prepare the soil for planting. When everything is right, they put seeds into the ground. As they do this, they have a mental picture of a field ready to harvest. They anticipate corn, oats, wheat or soybeans in abundance – what they call a “bumper crop.”
Gardeners follow a similar routine on a smaller scale. Their mental picture is of tomato vines bending under the weight of abundant fruit and healthy bushes loaded with beans or peas. It is the anticipation of the harvest that encourages hard work and patience over many weeks and months.
Farmers and gardeners understand potential crop failures. If they have worked at it for a few years, they probably have experienced such a loss. But they continue to make their preparations each year, always with a view of the harvest. If they ever lose that perspective, they might give up.
The life journey for humans is much like farming and gardening. Perhaps this helps us understand why Creator God placed the first human, Adam, in a garden setting. Adam had the privilege of seeing the process of nature in a perfect environment without any possibility of crop failure.
After Adam sinned, the ground was cursed, resulting in weeds, hard work and crop failures that made the effort of farming and gardening a lot more challenging. But the perspective remained the same as humans continued to plant with the anticipation of a harvest.
The process became a constant reminder of how human relationships would work. A man and woman would have children, with the goal of seeing them become mature adults who would repeat the process and populate Planet Earth. Parents would work hard and experience challenges and failures. They would need to stay focused on the purpose of the endeavor. If they ever lost sight of the reason for it, they would lose the desire to continue. Farmers cannot afford to give up and neither can parents.
The first humans experienced heartache when, because of jealousy, one brother killed the other. Apparently, those parents did not consider giving up, because they continued to have children. Following the human journey to this present day demonstrates the reality that life includes a combination of joy and sadness. There is a continual need for a harvest mentality as we do life day by day.
Adults who mentor children and teenagers need to help them understand these real-life principles so that they will become productive and fulfilled individuals. We should not protect them from the potential of failure. Helping them cope with reality prepares them to stay focused during their entire life journey.
In early American life, when most people lived in rural settings, the lessons of farming and gardening were obvious. But today, many families have no experience with a garden and certainly not a farm. The routine example of planting and harvest is lost in the convenience of grocery stores and fast food. It is little wonder that when people have relationship challenges, they often give up as hopeless what usually just needs some time, effort and perspective to resolve.
This time of year is about planting, while the harvest is just a hope. But every day of the year is a time for planting seeds of kindness, character and love that can be nurtured into actions that change lives. Jesus reminded us that a seed in itself does not accomplish much, but when it is planted in the ground, it produces much. Jesus taught and lived with a view of the harvest, and He told us to do the same.