It was one of those moments where you realize you will most likely never forget what is happening all around you. We were visiting my parents in August - our first overnight away trip with two children. Madison was having a fussy time so I scooped her up, slipped on my shoes, and took off down the lane. She's always liked to be walked around with. So I slowly scuffed along in my flip flops. The sun was setting behind us. I turned around to walk back which is when Reagan and my Mom came outside too. Reagan in a shirt and diaper because her shorts had gotten dirty and I hadn't fished clean ones out of the suitcase yet. But there they were, sitting just outside the front door on the cement step, petting the dog. Reagan squealing with an awesome joy/fear combination every time he swung his black head over to sniff her. Madison laid her soft fuzzy head down on my shoulder as we walked back toward the house. Her eyes closed against the bright sunshine slipping over the roof. I walked past the rows and rows of record-breaking corn, rustling, waving in the wind. Dad and Brian were off in the shed working on various projects. And life just seemed to ooze goodness and richness and beauty and perfection. Things, they were good. And in that moment I knew I would never lose that picture.
Less than 24 hours later, I would be pulling up onto the same lane, approaching the same house, being greeted by a much different picture. Hailstones, an hour later, still golf ball sized on a hot day. House damaged, trees stripped, debris everywhere, corn shredded.
My Dad is harvesting that crop. That badly damaged crop. He gets a few wagon loads per field. Drastically less than he was planning on. Its now a matter of just not being so far in the hole - breaking even...well, that won't be happening this year. And its not easy - emotionally. It isn't something he talks about, because he doesn't talk much anyway. But if you know him, you can feel the weight of disappointment and frustration. The hours and hours and hours of backbreaking labor he had put into those fields - the planting, the cultivating, the fertilizing - all of it seemingly in vain. All of it for a few wagon loads - when there should have been so many wagon loads he would call Brian for help on weekends.
But he faithfully harvests just the same.
And as I picture him sitting in the combine, roaring through his damaged crop, I look at my own call to harvest. The people I think are worth it. The trials I would be willing to endure. The cost I would be willing to pay. And I wish I was more faithful.
I have a brother and a sister-in-law bringing the gospel to the people of Southeast Asia. I'll be honest, sometimes that seems a high price to pay. I haven't seen them since April. I miss them. My children are growing so quickly and I am sad when I think of all the time we miss spending together. There are moments, sporadic and unexpected, when the pain of their absence is even deeper. There are moments when my arms actually long to embrace them, but I know that is still a year and a half away. There are times when I actually force myself to swallow the lump in my throat and blink away the tears.
And I KNOW its all worth it. I KNOW that they are there to bring life to others. I KNOW all of this. Just like my Dad KNOWS that the crop has to come in. But its still painful. Harvest is not always joyful or easy. Sometimes it comes with some pain and some struggle and some sacrifice. Sometimes, harvest comes at a cost.
But I take comfort in believing and realizing that no one knows this better than my Heavenly Father. And once again I ask Him how I can be more faithful, even when the harvest doesn't come in as I thought it would.