September 2016: A different harvest
Harvest season has come. Farmers check the weather to work out the best time to get the combines into fields and country roads hum with the sound of tractors taking grain back to the silos. As darkness falls the fields are lit with machines working late into the night. Decisions made last autumn about what to grow and when to plant come home to roost. So much time and effort has been invested through the year. And it all depends on the crucial few weeks of harvest.
Farming follows a very obvious annual cycle, which means that the significance of long-term decisions can be missed. While it is true that decisions made in the last 12 months have a huge effect on the quality of the harvest, they are not the only factors. Long-term investment in soil fertility and drainage makes a difference. On a larger scale than that, human impact on the planet and its effect on weather-patterns, also comes into play. Every farmer knows they inherit the legacy left by those who farmed before them.
All of our lives produce a harvest. Paul says, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest it we do not give up.’ (Galatians 6:9 )
Part of the harvest we produce is immediate. The way we live and the things we do has an immediate effect on the people we rub up against.
Part of the harvest we produce is long term. It is our legacy. It is the impact we have on those around. It is not immediately obvious. In fact it only becomes apparent many years, if not decades later.
I was struck by this last month when I was watching the cyclig at the Olympics. Once again Britain cleaned up the medals in the velodrome. There were familiar names like Bradley Wiggins and Laura Trott adding to their medal haul and there were new names like Callum Skinner and Elinor Barker on the podium for the first time. As they did at London four years ago and in Beijing eight years ago, the cycling team seemed unstoppable.
As I watched the action, I heard it being described by Chris Boardman. It took me back to 1992 when Boardman won a gold medal on his futuristic bike at the Barcelona Olympics. In 1992 Britain had no cycling pedigree. Boardman was a considered a one-off. He had a strange bike and seemed a bit of an odd ball. No one could have imagined that 20 years later Britain would dominate track cycling, and have won the Tour De France four times in the last five years.
Chris Boardman deserves a great deal of credit for this. His riding on the track and then in the Tour de France inspired a generation of cyclists. Hearing him commentate on the action from Rio seemed entirely appropriate. In many ways this is his legacy. Back in the 1990s he was considered an exception. It turns out he was more of a game changer. He introduced competitive cycling to young people. He inspired them to give it a go. Slowly momentum grew. Huge investments were made in facilities and equipment. As thousands gave it a go, a few world beaters emerged.
We all have an immediate impact on those around us, whether positive or negative. We also all leave a legacy. The longer-term impact on our families, our communities, our church and our work place can be for good or ill.
We can be the farmer who patiently tends the land to ensure its fertility for decades to come. We do this when we choose to our invest time and energy in what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8 ) This will help us produce a righteous harvest.
To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.
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