The harvest of our labor


By Betty J. Slade | PREVIEW Columnist

Every season has its harvest. There is a beginning, middle and end to each season. We plant, water, cultivate and gather in the harvest. Four seasons in a year. We are in harvest season according to the yearly calendar.

Our lives also move in seasons. We have trusted the waiting process. We’ve experienced birth and new life in the spring of our lives, growing in grace in the summer, harvesting our labor in the fall and digging deep in the dormant, deadly winters. To my generation. It’s time to gather the harvest of what we’ve planted. We have planted seeds in friends, family and business. We have watched these relationships mature over the years.

Each apple carries three or four seeds. Depending on the size of the tree, we can expect to harvest 200 to 300 apples per tree. In older apple trees, the yield could be up to 700 to 800 apples. Can you imagine what older people have stored in them? Knowledge, wisdom and faith. They stand where they are planted. They are still yielding fruit.

When we first came to the Lord, we were like hard, sour, green marbles rolling around and telling the world what Jesus did for us. Our faith was small, but our hearts were bursting in a love relationship. We were experiencing the honeymoon of heaven. That love has never diminished, but has grown like the love in a marriage relationship. Even in the changing, we grow together and love more.

I wrote about a sweet country family living on the Crawford River Ranch in the heart of Archuleta County. Tucked away from the noise of the world, fighting for a way of life for their family, faith and community, this family lives in their unpretentious ways. They are hardworking folk who have raised good kids, claimed their pew on Sunday morning and helped their neighbors. They could be any of us.

When I look back on my life, I can see clearly how so many seasons have come and gone. I’ve lived in metaphors of disappointment valleys and mountaintop experiences. These beautiful Rocky Mountains have taught me much.

My generation is welcoming a new season. It’s time to gather the harvest. Our branches are ladened with ripe, red apples. If we don’t share the fruit, the birds will peck at the apples, and they will fall to the ground and rot.

For the unlearned, old age is winter. For the learned, it is the season of harvest. 

“The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning. He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.” — Isaiah 50:4 (NKJV).

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” — Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV). 

God uses gold to describe our faith. Our faith has been tried and found to be true. We carry the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, against which there is no law.

One year for my Christian Artist and Writers’ Retreats, I had invited a couple of key speakers with a large following. They declined my invitation. One of the writers said, “You are just a sapling. When you grow bigger and your branches become stronger, the big birds will find a place to nest in your branches. You will be shade for others. You’re not there yet.”

We were faithful when we were just saplings and thrilled to show a blossom or two. Tying big red cardboard circles on the tree to mimic heavenly fruit didn’t give sustenance, but it would’ve made us feel better. Today, our faith is full of juicy apples. The seeds have been planted into other lives across the country. We have no idea who we’ve fed and where the wind has blown the seeds. 

Final brushstroke: My generation is moving into our final season. This season is a wrap-up of how we’ve walked, where we’ve been, what we have and what we’ve given. We are seeing the harvest of our labor. We will be met with, “Good job and well done, my faithful servant.”

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