Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.(James 1:7)
This bible verse is a favourite of mine and I’ve used it several times when preaching at Harvest Festival services. It fits nicely with the chorus of the old hymn (“All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above”), as well as reminding us that despite the changing seasons of the earth and our circumstances, God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
This picture was taken on an August morning a few years ago. The fields are bare because the harvest has been “taken” (as the old country people would say).
On the one hand, it’s a picture of changing times, yet on another it seems a changeless picture of the countryside.
Look beneath the surface and things aren’t quite what they seem. One hundred years ago, there were no farm buildings only a relatively new house, built of the local yellow brick, in the middle of open fields. Sixty years ago there were no barns to store corn, it was all in ricks built from hundreds of sheaves each of them up to 5 feet long.
Still, there was the wood. The trees, which provide shelter from the North and East winds, look like they have been there for ever.
I know they haven’t because I was involved in planting the wood on a cold spring day, with a biting east wind, in Spring 1977. Well, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t exactly trusted to do much planting: I dug the holes and held the trees while those more experienced in doing such things, set the broadleaved sapling straight in the holes. There’s a lot of holes in a few thousand square yards as I came to discover.
It’s hard to believe that the trees have grown so much in 40 years but we should really expect it to happen: that’s what trees do. That’s the kind of change that isn’t so bad, especially when we can see the benefits (there’s a few good cherry trees in that wood now).
That’s very different from the imposed changes we face at the moment. I don’t know about you, but my routines aren’t the same now as they were a fortnight ago. My daily priorities have changed, the way I interact has changed and I wonder what difference it will all make in the longer term.
One thing hasn’t changed. With the need to limit social interaction has come the opportunity of keeping in touch in ways that are more innovative than before.
It’s also meant more time to stop, think and reflect. I’ve come a long way in 40 years – as have all of us who have lived in such times.
God is as close now as He has ever been. There are many blessings despite the wider concerns. He is answering prayer and bringing comfort and, in the phone conversations I have had, fellowship continues and is growing on.
Growing up and growing on brings the fruit of our lives to God. Harvest always involves a clearing up and then a new start. Let’s allow God to get to work on the field of our life and let Him show us what a daily new start can look like.
… set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
Yours in Christ