When considering the Book of Ecclesiastes, many are reminded of a cool song from the 1960s: “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season).” Many are aware of that verse. But what of the next passage?

“What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 ESV).

This passage is so relevant for me now. Many are fearful, concerned with the future of our nation and our world. That fear is revealed by empty shelves in the grocery store, gardening supplies in short supply and the lack of canning supplies. People who five years ago thought I was eccentric or weird in my homesteading passion today are saying, “Hey, if it all goes bad, we’re coming to your place.”

Many of those people are now taking steps to learn how to grow food, how to take on the skills of self-sufficiency that were common to our grandparents and great-grandparents. I am getting emails from some of you, sharing your stories, showing pictures. I have visited people who are filling their larders and building raised beds for growing food and stocking up on freeze-dried food and canning jars. Awesome!

Side note: HOA members everywhere, petition your HOA leadership to change the bylaws to allow for raised-bed gardens and backyard chickens. Let my people go, so they can grow and eat delicious, fresh, organic foods and amazing, delicious, multi-colored eggs, and feel a sense of food security in these difficult times. I promise these can be done with ascetic beauty, with class that will add an organic beauty to the landscape.

I have had some folks who are taking great steps toward self-sufficiency, then in the midst of the work lament the idea, wondering: “Why am I doing this?” Or as Solomon put it, “What gain is the worker from his toil?”

I get it. I glance over at my seed starts and ache for the day when those spindly little plants are bearing the fruit of delicious cucumber salads or when those tiny tomato plants bear an abundance of fresh, tasty tomatoes. (Am I making you hungry?)

I have to remember: He makes everything in His time. God in His sovereignty already knows in each tomato plant how many tomatoes will form and be harvested this summer. He also knows how many seeds will be harvested, creating a passel of new tomato plants that will produce more tomatoes to be harvested. Sound familiar?

The sustainable garden is a demonstration in creation of the sustainable Gospel. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We are called to “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’” Scatter seed. Preach the Word in season and out of season. The Lord of the harvest already knows the future fruit of these labors. Proclaim the Gospel, plant seeds, wait for God’s timing, bring in the harvest, care for the harvest, then in the next season do it again.

In these efforts, be careful of artificial inputs, as they will reap an artificial harvest. Plant seeds one at a time. Care for the plants one at a time. Protect the plants, water them, entrust them to the organic care of a loving and merciful God. (Wait, is he talking about a garden or the church? Yes!)

In this work, whether it is gardening or sharing the Gospel, our hands will be dirty. We will grow weary. The work is real; it is difficult and messy. But in due time there will be a harvest.

Solomon writes: “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 ESV).

Eat, drink and take pleasure in the toil. Pray to the Lord of the harvest. To God be the glory!

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