Reflections 10/8/23

Autumn and Faith – By Bill Merlock

Days are getting shorter, leaves are beginning to turn color, and seemingly every product on the store shelves has a “limited edition pumpkin spice” variety:  all signs that autumn has arrived! 

Autumn is the time of harvest when all the work done in the fields through spring and summer comes to fruition.  And as we think about this, we can reflect on two fundamental requirements needed to ensure that this harvest is bountiful.

First, of course, are the things that nature provides.  Without arable soil, plentiful sunshine, and ample rain, the land could not become productive.

No less important is the hard work of the farmer.  Without the farmer’s toil, even the most fertile soil cannot meet its potential bounty.  Perhaps a few people could live on wild fruits and berries, but feeding the world requires hard work from dawn to dusk through the whole of summer.  The land’s yield can only reach its potential when the farmer cooperates with nature, transforming the gifts present in his environment into produce to feed the masses.

What kind of meaning can we find in this real-life parable God has presented us with, this tangible example of how we are to build our spiritual life?

Like the farmer, we can do nothing without the unmerited grace granted to us by God, his unending love and mercy, and, especially, the redemptive grace merited by Christ in His passion, death, and resurrection.  We might be tempted to believe that we can earn heaven by being a good enough person; but when we reflect on the autumn harvest, do we see the need for the “good soil” of God’s grace without which we are just planting seeds in the Sahara, where no good fruit can be grown?

We might also be tempted to depend entirely on God, to think that our faith is enough, that God can carry the burden and we are just along for the ride.  But if we don’t cooperate with His grace, if we don’t labor in His fields, what will happen to His harvest?  Is that the limit of our spiritual life, or are we called to something greater?

As we enjoy the beauty of the fall colors and autumn tide celebrations, let us continue to reflect on both our need for God’s grace in our lives and our calling to cooperate with His grace to produce a bountiful spiritual harvest!