Wheat ready to harvest

Decades later, a former Nebraska farm boy relives an eventful harvest.

Best Wheat Crop Ever

Harvesting wheat is my fondest memory of growing up on the farm. The fields swaying in the breeze, the warm summer temperatures, the big noisy machines, the swirling dust combined with long days, meals (including ice cold orange Kool-Aid) on the go, and sweaty tired workmen made for a sensuous experience.

The golden grain flowing from the combine into the waiting trucks gave a sense of satisfaction. The harvest was gathered. That year’s income was guaranteed.

The best wheat crop we ever had was when I was ten years old. Growing conditions were perfect. An abundant harvest looked inevitable.

When the plants matured and turned amber in color, we knew that harvest time was fast approaching. Every day I would walk with my dad into the fields as he checked the condition of the grain. Finally, the big day came. The harvest was ready!

But we had a problem. My dad, a young poor farmer, didn’t own a combine. He was dependent on a neighbor to come with his machine to do the work. The neighbor was busy harvesting his own crop. After an agonizing couple of days, he was able to start on our fields. The yield was outstanding.

We went to bed that night excited knowing that the next day our harvest would begin in earnest.

Hail

About 3:00 in the morning, I was startled out of my sleep by hollowing wind, raging thunder and pouring rain. Then came the worst sound a farmer can hear: pounding hail. Even as a ten-year-old I knew this was bad for the harvest.

I got out of bed, went downstairs from my top-floor bedroom and saw my parents in their pajamas staring out of the window at the wheat fields, their silhouettes amplified by the incessant lightning. In my mind’s eye, I still see them standing there over 60 years later.

Breakfast was a quiet affair. Even my toddler sister was subdued as she sensed that something was amiss. I went with dad to the fields. The crop was a total loss. The hail had driven the plants into the ground. There would be no harvest nor income that year.

What went wrong? To be clear, there was nothing wrong with the harvest; it was plentiful. Very simply stated, we didn’t have the resources—the workmen or the machines—to harvest the wheat.

Risk-Reward

To their credit, this never happened to my parents again. They took a huge risk, went into debt, and bought the needed machines. They also hired more workers. The risk paid off. The harvest was never lost again.

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest-ready fields” (Matthew 9:37-38).

The spiritual harvest is plentiful. Am I praying, taking the risk and paying the price to bring it in? Or will it be lost?

Don Neddenriep grew up to work in the spiritual harvest in Eastern Europe before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain. He recently directed Navigators World Missions in Colorado Springs and is now on sabbatical.

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