“For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.”-Psalm 92:4
The roar of the old feed truck jumped to life. Cobwebs and black smoked coughed from her tailpipe as the deep rumble tickled the boy’s feet.
“C’mon around here and I’ll put you up in the seat.”
The skin of the man was tanned from countless hours toiling in the sun, working the land. His overalls worn threadbare in places; badges of honor to this farmer. He lifted his grandson up and put him on the cracked and frayed leather of the ancient seat. Plumes of dust billowed forth from the sand-colored cushion that peaked through the seams beneath.
“Sit right there now until I get in.”
The boy was barely three years old but yearned for every breath of life to be in the presence of his papaw. The farmer reached the open door of the driver’s side, then swung himself into the seat and slammed the door shut. Dust exploded into the shafts of sunlight that filtered through the clouded window before them. The man began grabbing the long-handled gears, and a deep guttural grinding below them shook the truck into motion. The old ford grain truck began rolling down the bumpy gravel road. In the back, their precious cargo. The sun was just reaching the top of the trees along the fence line that clung to the road. The lad stood on the seat and looked through the tiny back window of the cab. Golden harvest grains of corn radiated in the morning sunlight, like those ancient troves of gold once beheld by the Conquistadors in their New World explorations.
“Turn around here now,” the man growled at the boy pointing to the seat behind him. “I don’t need you bumping out the window.” He grinned over at his only grandchild. Doyle had much to be thankful for on this day. This load of corn was headed to the mill in town. It would be enough to feed his hogs and cattle through the winter. If they were lucky, there would be enough to trade or sell for extra supplies so badly needed. The sense of accomplishment of countless hours of hard work was reflected in every grain. Once the seed had been planted, the work didn’t end. Cultivating, spraying, and detasseling took many hours of hard labor. Working the land seemed to be a never-ending job. Then there were the weeks without rain. The boy could often find his papaw bent over in prayer, asking God to send the much-needed life source so that they may continue their livelihood.
Prayers had been answered in abundance that year.
Then there was his grandson; the pride of his life. Yes, there was much to thankful for that day. Not many months ago, the child had remained in the hospital isolation ward for days. Pneumonia had nearly claimed his young life the previous year, and it had returned in his second year with a vengeance. He had barely survived the second time. His tiny weakened frame was only just now beginning to fill out. It was a blessing to see him radiate, like their load of corn, with happiness as they bumped along.
He nodded at the boy once the tot was seated, then turned and spat a timely squirt of chewing tobacco juice out his own window. His head snapped back to the front maintaining his focus on the winding road. The old green truck rumbled along as the dust behind bellowed up like a rooster tail, dissolving everything from view behind them.
As Doyle’s long arms swung madly back and forth on the expanse of a steering wheel, the fields from which they had recently gleaned their precious cargo passed by the windows. The little boy looked out watching the blur precede by, one fence row after another in a uniformity that soon pulsated into a numbing coalescent hum. He had seemingly forgotten the loneliness of that hospital bed covered in clear plastic. The fields of green washed away those painful memories until all that was left was the glow of joy within. A feeling of warmth and happiness flooded his being until he was sound asleep.
The clouds of dust folded over onto themselves and washed across the fields of time. Nothing remains the same on the surface. Yet, beneath, some things can never be erased.
As the sweat poured down my face, I slowly made another trip up the steep grade of the mountain, carrying one more log to the flatbed trailer. One after another, each tree that was cut was measured, then taken with care to the waiting trailer. Slowly, ever so slowly, the logs began to accumulate until there were as much as the tandem axles could handle. My body was drenched in perspiration. The later days of September were not yet cool even though we were in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. But there was no time to wait. The work had to be done and time was of the essence. Winter would soon be here, and our plans were to at least have the foundation to the new spiritual studio finished before the cold north winds began to blow. As I worked, the clouds began to build, and my mind drifted back to those long-ago days.
As I put the truck into gear and pulled away with my first load, 20 logs, my mind could see that grain truck bouncing down those dusty Pose County roads once more. My harvest had not been one of my own doing, but rather, this one was of God. I had not planted the seeds, but I was here to take in the harvest. Why and how I had come to this place were all a part of His plan. I was merely putting into action the next step in the journey. My harvest wasn’t the golden kernels of corn from my youth, but rather, the sweet, aromatic pines of the Appalachians.
Beautiful, straight, tall white pines littered the new land we had purchased, and with them, the perfect location to nestle the new studio that would become a new place of worship. As I worked, I was cautious to only clear enough trees for the new building. Even with being careful not to take down any unnecessary trees, it quickly became obvious that we might have enough to build most of the new building
By the second load, we had 41 logs total taken to the sawmill. Like those golden seeds of corn falling into the collection shaft behind the grain truck at the mill, the massive front-end loader at the sawmill took each load of logs from my trailer like a giant hand of God. The men running the mill told me that it might be a while before they got to them. So, like most things these days, I put it in God’s hands, trusting that when the time was right, they would call.
A few days ago, the sawmill operator called and asked me to stop by on my way home from school. The news sounded promising. When I pulled up, I found Tony, the operator, there waiting for me. Now at this point, to make a long story short, Tony had worked through some challenges, but in the end, God’s hand was in it. There he shared with me his testimony, and once again, I was reminded that no matter what we do, no matter where we go, the Master’s plan is at work. Through our connection, something beautiful had happened in Tony’s own life. He was now back in the graces of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He told me that in a few days, my logs would be finished. Just hearing him share his story with me that evening, I knew that in the end, the harvest was being done, one way or another.
Today, we brought home all those logs. Now not covered in rough bark, but sawn into useable lumber. Tony had masterfully gleaned every ounce of wood from those trees and turned them into a work of art; a massive trailer full of sweet-smelling wood. Their texture painted a golden glow. At that moment, a sense of accomplishment flooded over me, and my papaw’s memory flashed in my head. Yet, this time, the harvest was not just of what lay on the trailer, but also of another that had returned to his faith. The feeling of once more making all the right choices, taking the care needed to bring the harvest to fruition was something that taught a man many things of life. When the crops were ready, you knew. In the journey, you are never alone; God is with you.
Like Jesus telling his disciples, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”-John 4:35 Like the patient farmer, Jesus knew his crops were ready. Then as now, we must recognize what we must do to serve. Jesus told them specifically, “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”-Luke 10:2
Like the farmer of old and the lumberjack of recent days, the feeling of one bringing in the bounty of a season of growth can be one of utter satisfaction. We may not be the ones to plant the seed, but when Jesus tells us to go forth and reap the harvest, how much greater joy can there be than to know you are harvesting the Lord’s crops? As Jesus also told his disciples, “Yea are now fishers of men.” We need only take his message to the world and once again, like in days of old, bring in the harvest, for the fields are white for the taking.
Let us not tarry, for time is of the essence.
Let us reap what He has sown.
Time to harvest.
Thanks be to God.
For specialized, custom sawmill work in the Caldwell County area of North Carolina, call master sawmill operator, Tony Moretz, at 828-493-0400 Tell him the Lord sent you, and he’ll know what you mean.