Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. John 4:35

I am a Southern girl. I love magnolia trees, rocking chairs on porches, sweet tea and cotton in the field. About ten years ago my friend, Deborah and I wanted to pick cotton and make wreaths for our living rooms, Martha Stewart inspired, of course!. We left out for an afternoon adventure to find a field with cotton plants that were bursting into big fluffy white pods, locate the owner and ask permission to help ourselves.
We were successful in our quest. The owner said “Get all you want!” With scissors in hand, we plowed into this beautiful field of cotton plants and quickly learned that we needed something better to cut the plants. We ended up with a pair of bush cutters and still encountered a number of challanges including cuts on our legs and hands from the pods. Although rewarding, cutting cotton was difficult. I can’t imagine trying to pick it and stuff into a burlap bag as my mom grew up doing.

I look at the picture above and I am quickly reminded of the Bible verse in John 4. I am normally a NIV kind of girl, but I get a better picture from the KJV. It says: Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (v35)

I believe that not only are the fields white for harvest with unbelievers who have never made a commitment to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, but that there is another group who would also be white for harvest. The latter group is the group made up of individual believers who for one reason or another have given up on church. They haven’t given up on Jesus, just church. They have given up hope in belonging to a church family who forgives, who offers hope and healing and accepts them right where they are. Jesus met the needs of the people in His time by looking at what they needed physically and emotionally before focusing on the spiritual side of things.

The church is a hospital for hurting people. People who have sinned. People who have suffered loss maybe because of their own selfishness or mistakes. People who have been wounded by the very people they turned to for help in their time of need. People who feel as if they will never fit in or be accepted. We need to realize just as Jesus did, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Luke 9:12

Just like gathering cotton, reaching out to the wounded is difficult. It requires that we roll up our sleeves, put on our work gloves and be ready to do some hard, dirty work. Jesus taught that the people who are hurting deserve an opportunity to be healed. That was His mission according to Isaiah 61. His “job description” included not only preaching the good news but binding up the brokenhearted, setting captives free, releasing prisoners from darkness, to comfort the mourning, to give a crown of beauty and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Since we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus on earth, I think Isaiah 61 contains my marching orders as well.



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