I was sitting at a picnic table near a playground recently. I looked up and saw a beautiful canopy of leaves, autumn colors on full display. I looked down and saw sparse areas of grass in the midst of hard-packed, dead dirt. It occurred to me that soon God in His provision would compel those leaves to fall from those trees. The ground would be given exactly what it needs, a beautiful biomass to provide a layer of compost, regenerating the soil with nutrients necessary for the trees and grass come spring. 

But alas, I looked around and saw a very busy landscaping crew. I knew that as soon as those leaves drop, they will do all they can to get those unsightly leaves out of the way. Then in the spring, they will come back with various chemical fertilizers to artificially provide nutrients for the trees and grass.

On the homestead, our effort is to make every attempt to follow God’s patterns. Every season has its purpose. (Just ask King Solomon, see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.) But we, in our false ideas of beauty and our need to make things happen more quickly, impede God’s design and force our own inputs, demanding the patterns of life and creation bow the knee to our will and cleverness.

How’s that working for you?

Pain and strain are good things. The baby chick needs to strain against the shell in order to have the strength it needs to survive. Bean sprouts need to push through the soil in order to later bear much fruit. That blueberry bush needs to endure the harsh winter, so it will be stronger and grow more in the spring.

In Acts 2, Peter preaches the Gospel to the same Jews who had just weeks before proclaimed, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” while laying palm branches at the feet of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem. Soon after, they cried out, “Crucify him!”

Peter concludes his message with this: “‘Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36 ESV).

What happens next is stunning: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart.” They hurt! The Gospel message rightly proclaimed hurts. It is the tip of the sword referenced in Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (ESV).

We often blunt the tip of the sword, avoiding the piercing of the heart by this truth: We are all sinners, our hearts are wicked and we need a Savior. How often do we attempt extra-Biblical, artificial inputs to convince people to follow Jesus, avoiding the pain of confronting sin?

But that pain and strain produces something more beautiful when people repent and are baptized.

Jesus said, “‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Luke 10:2 ESV).

Let us go and make disciples, trusting that the Lord of the harvest knows what He is doing.

May your compost pile ferment well. May your fall crops grow strong and hardy. May your larder be full, brimming with the delightful provision of our Lord. To God be the glory.

Denny Dillman is benevolence pastor at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus.