Sword of the Harvest
Girls with swords, we are armed! And the first sword we’re to learn about is the Sword of the Harvest. It’s important to think a bit on what “harvest” means so that we can apply that to this week’s weapon.
Harvest. The gathering of crops. A supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored. The result or consequence of any act, process, or event. (dictionary.com, definition of harvest)
Biblical harvest has a similar meaning — a gathering up of believers; the “fruit” of our labors. So taking up the Sword of the Harvest would mean we’re armed to WORK. Lisa lists four uses for the machete, the main sword used for harvesting:
- Clearing & maintaining paths – helping people find their ways
- Changing environments – creating a refuge
- Harvesting fields – enjoying the fruit of our labors
- Killing & defending against snakes – coming against enemies
Clearing and Maintaining Paths
Lisa makes it clear we should know the difference between “path” and “way.” How would you define path?
The term “path” differs from “way” because “way” is the manner in which you travel and “path” is the course to where you are headed. (Fencing Manual, p.123)
Using these definitions, what literal paths can you list? Maybe hiking trails or highways, sidewalks or train tracks. What literal ways do you think of? We thought of traveling by boat, plane, train, bicycle, and on foot.
Why note the difference? Because God calls us to travel the high road, the narrow road…what Scripture often calls the path to light and life. Our enemy and often the world try to entice us to take the road MOST travelled, the path to darkness and death.
And just as when you’re taking a trip, it’s important to know where you’re going in life, especially spiritually. But “over the course of time, paths can become overgrown, littered, and lost.” (FM, p.121) I picture myself traveling through an overgrown jungle where my trail is overgrown with vines and branches, and the further I go into the jungle, the thicker the underbrush and the harder it is to pick my way through the path.
Hence, the machete…the Sword of the Harvest. Don’t forget that the Sword is God’s Word. Just as we’d need a machete to clear that jungle path, we need God’s Word to keep up on His path, to keep us “enlightened.”
An example of a dark path Lisa gives is addiction to pornography. “The hold of this addiction grows stronger the longer it lives in the shadows.” (FM, p.121) But when the truth comes out, its hold lessens and the person is better able to overcome it.
God’s Word stands the test of time. Lisa calls it an “ancient path” because Scripture is timeless and eternal. It has the “power to sever what entangles us.” (FM, p.122) We need to know God’s Word well and in its fullness in order to wield the Sword of Harvest with great might.
Lisa goes on to teach that language (those Sword Words from chapter 8) is key in this harvesting work, in clearing our paths. The WAY we travel our path is as important as which path we take. Her example is our speech. If we speak with perversion, our way becomes perverted, our paths become crooked. The opposite is just as true, of course.
Language has the power to connect and transport us to righteous paths and ways, just as surely as our words have the power to separate us from evil — the way being HOW we journey, and the path being the route or WHERE we are going. (FM, p. 123)
Often that narrow path is a new path, one that we have to blaze ourselves. In other words, taking the righteous path means using unconventional approaches. Jesus was a trailblazer. He never ventured off the holy path, but He was not one to do things the conventional way either.
At the New Year, I picked up reading the You Version “Year Through the New Testament” reading plan, and I have really enjoyed my time seeing Jesus up close again. To hear His words and see Him in action — He was definitely unique. He was bold in the way He faced-down His challengers, but He loved fully. He truly turned convention up-side-down.
And He was so nice to leave a trail for us!
Let’s pick it up and use it to clear paths, to stay on His path, to journey His way as His righteous and holy vessels.
Lisa challenges us to get this process started by thinking about what new words we need to say and what old conversations we need to leave. I started with the self-talk I need to leave: no more “I can’t” or “I’m too busy” or “I’m too scared.” He’s calling me to a bolder walk, so I need to put into practice His promises that “with Him I can,” that “He can do abundantly more than I can think or imagine!” How about you?
The second way we can use the Sword of Harvest is to change our environments.
The Word not only has the power to light our environment, but it can change it as well. Fasting, prayer, and declaring the scriptures can literally increase your inner capacity. Sometimes enlarging what is within us means disengaging from what is around us. (FM, p.125)
That was my favorite paragraph of the chapter. I have, a few times, experienced that “increase of my inner capacity,” and it was amazing! I hate that I am unable to just stay there with God every minute of every day, but I do love it when I can get there.
Fasting has definitely been a way God has helped me change my environment, to enlarge what is within me. I can think of three major fasts in the past 10 years that were seasons and experiences that went beyond me — they were the work of the Holy Spirit within me, and they helped me remove myself from the distractions of my surroundings to focus on God and His path.
I love that Lisa qualifies this changing of environments — “We do not meditate to have a better knowledge of ourselves but to have a deeper revelation of God within us.” Amen!
Wherever you find yourself now, God may be calling you to change your environment. Maybe He’s calling you to be the voice of encouragement in a negative environment. Or maybe He wants you to be willing to share the story of your spiritual journey with Christ with a co-worker who tends to make your environment a difficult one. Or He may be calling you to lead by example in your family of unbelievers.
The most persuasive argument you will ever make is the one you make with your life. (FM, p.126)
What environment might God be asking you to change?
Do not you say, “There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?” Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. John 4:35
Jesus wants us, as those He taught, to shift our eyes from what we have always known to a harvest we can only imagine. Lisa teaches that when we speak the Word, the eyes of our understanding will be enlightened (FM, p. 127).
To go into a actual field and harvest a crop is not something most of us would relate to today. Some of us may live in a place where we watch fields of wheat or corn or cotton grow only to see one day that the fields are gone — the fruit was harvested. We miss seeing the work that goes into reaping what was sown.
God wants us to understand that sometimes we reap what we did not sow — maybe someone before us planted the seeds of faith, but we’re the one to lead that person to Christ. Other times, we may be the one to toil the soil and plant the seeds, but another person comes behind us to harvest.
And we need to be willing to do either. Or both.
And sometimes we need to recognize that this Sword of Harvest has multiple uses, so on the day we’re clearing the path, we may also be harvesting grain. We get to be holy multi-taskers!!
We’re also to be holy co-laborers. That means we need to be good at working with others. We need to guard ourselves from being competitors.
It was hard for some in our group to grasp this notion of competitive Christians, so a few of us were brave and shared when we had fallen into the trap of competing with those we were meant to be working alongside. For instance, it’s easy to compare myself to others I work with. Maybe I envy a gift they have or the attention they get from our leader. If I let myself feel those feelings, that competitive nature rears its ugly head, and I’m cooking up ways to outshine that person. (I told you we were brave!)
Churches — Christian churches — can become competitive with one another. How easy is it to want to “keep up with the Joneses?” Way too easy!
So we guard ourselves. And we remember that awareness is a huge first step. Then go to God, His Word, and work at getting back on the path so that we can resume our co-laboring!! I loved Lisa’s example of John the Baptist. He never once gave in to the pressures of comparison the world put on him. He always knew his path and he stayed faithful to his call. He didn’t give in to the temptation to compete with Jesus. Let’s remember John and co-labor in the great harvest!
Lisa challenges us to identify an area of conflict in our lives specific to harvest and competition. How can we begin to swing the sword of harvest as a co-laborer?
Kill or Defend
So…we’re back on that jungle path, whacking away at all the branches and brambles when all the sudden…snakes! Do we run? No. Running takes us off the path.
No. We fight back. And our weapon? Yes, we slay evil “with the machete of God’s Word” (FM, p.129). Girls of the sword, no one ever said this would be easy or for the faint of heart. But don’t lose heart — God is equipping us. Grab your sword. Let’s harvest!
This next week, we’re reading TWO chapters. I’ll meet you back here next week and we’ll look at Chapters 10 & 11 – The Swords of Light & Song.
Clearing paths alongside you,