Readers and fellow pilgrims on this spiritual journey, I am delighted today to share a guest post from a member of our “Coffee Stains on my Bible” community, Evangeline Rose Whitlock. Evangeline is a professional stage manager, and we met in NYC a few years back. I am grateful for her friendship and encouragement, particularly when it comes to this blog, which she has been a faithful reader and commenter on. I pray her insights and example will serve you as it has served me today. – Christy
Lord, in this season of travel and seemingly endless work, thank you for providing a moment for me to pause, read your word, and reflect. Thank you for Christy’s vision and inspiration, and for prompting her to reach out. Father in heaven – open my mind and my heart to your word and to your teaching, and reveal to me your will, your love, and your desire for my heart, body, mind, and soul.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘there are four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for the harvest.”
This reflection is coming to you from about 37,000 feet in the air, which our captain informed us would be our cruising altitude. When Christy responded to an instagram photo of my coffee cup and my new journal, challenging me to a guest post for “Coffee Stains,” I was thrilled and overwhelmed at once. I was about to embark on a week of nonstop travel, shows, work, moving out of my apartment…when would I possibly find the time for my own Bible study and meditation – let along writing about it for hundreds of people to read?
The answer came easily and suddenly. My plane time is always my catch up on journaling time. I don’t sleep well on planes. I don’t get work done, and I have a hard time focusing enough to read – I get anxious and nervous and about the only thing I’ve found that keeps me calm enough to do it is prayer and journaling. Whether I’m headed up the coast, on a red eye across the flyover states, or just a quick back and forth to see my family for the weekend, the airplane is always a natural place of pause and reflection for me.
So, here I am, in seat 25A, cup of coffee and my open Bible on the tray table in front of me, headed back to one more show in Dallas and a couple days of classes (before I take off, yet again, for a conference in Milwaukee).
Today, as I turned the stiff pages of my ashamedly dusty Bible, God’s word fell open to this passage in John. It was marked with a dried iris from my grandfather’s funeral of a couple weeks ago (another plane trip). I don’t remember why I stuck it in there. I’m guessing it was a random afterthought in my exhaustion and grief.
But God refuses to be an afterthought in our lives and in our hearts, particularly when he knows there’s something we need to learn.
Grandpa was a farmer his whole life. He came from a long line of farmers. How fitting that I stuck the iris into this passage where God uses farming as an analogy for our calling as Christians. Grandpa knew hard work. He knew the grind of waking before dawn and going to bed late at night. He knew the true meaning of reap what you sow. It’s one of the reasons I was always so happy my grandpa was proud of my unconventional career in theatre – I think he saw the same work ethic and commitment to the harvest in my work as an artist.
I hear Jesus’s words in this passage as a plea. I can see him sitting near the well where he had just been conversing with the woman. He’s trying to make his disciples understand what he’s been doing and teaching as he draws ever closer to his earthly end. He’s reaching out his arms, pleading, “Don’t wait! Go do it! The fields are ready!”
In my own life I have a tendency to always try to plan too far ahead. Sometimes I miss the fields that are white for harvest now because I am trying to plan a harvest four months from now. Christ assures us in this passage that the time is now to gather our fruit for eternal life. He implores us to look up! Don’t wait four months!
When I opened my Bible today, on yet another plane, for yet another reason, God reached out to me. I can feel his presence, see his arms reaching out to me saying, “Evangeline! Don’t wait four months from now! The fields are white for the harvest!” I think back to my grandfather. In the end, cancer took him, much faster than any of us expected. The pastor at his memorial service shared this: “Near the end, when I asked Dorman if he was ready to meet God, he simply nodded. No words. Just a nod.”
I want to live my life in a way that when I’m asked if I’m ready to meet God, all I have to do is nod. I want to gather my fruit now. Grandpa didn’t have four months. The fields were white for the harvest. And he was ready.
What is something in your life that you are either putting off doing or conversely, trying to plan before you actually have the resources to plan? How can you relinquish control of that to God? Look up and see what fields in your life are white for harvest now. Don’t wait four months. You might not be here. Your loved one might not be here. That friend next door you have been tying to witness to might not be here. Enter in to the labor of those who have gone on before you and reap a harvest that will make our heavenly Father leap for joy in the farm we call our planet Earth.