“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2
Let me ask you a question – and Indian idiom (or so I’ve heard) – that I’ve asked my children many, many times… How do you eat an elephant?
The answer (and they all know this, too) is, “One bite at a time.”
When they are facing a task that seems to be too big for them to ever be able to accomplish (like catching up 30 lessons of math or cleaning out the garage or earning enough money to pay for something big) I’ve tried to teach them to just get started and do the first bit. After the first bit is started the next bit is a little easier, and soon, you’re trucking along with a song in your heart and the job is getting done.
Most of the time a little more encouragement is needed, the mountainous task in front of them looms large until it’s more than half way gone, and there is a whole lot of discipline that goes into continuing to the end than the above description might lead one to believe. But in the end, one faithful foot in front of the other – one bite at a time as it were – really is the best way to go. We see a big thing and we just need to get on with it.
But sometimes the task in front of us really is impossible. There’s too much work for one person – or a few – to ever be able to get done.
What do you do when there is a job in front of you that is simply too big?
What do you do when the job is like digging a well in the desert with a spoon or building a road through the mountains with a toy dump truck – a job that just can’t be done without more?
When Jesus told his disciples that the laborers were few he was, perhaps, opening their eyes to the enormity of the task he was setting before them and the impossibility that they alone could do it. It was as if he was saying, “Look – I have a harvest that is more plentiful than the stars. My harvest is more numerous than the grains of sand at the sea. There aren’t enough of you. You can’t do it…”
I don’t know – maybe I’m a little looney – or maybe my imagination just gets the better of me sometimes, but I think if I had been listening to this I might have been having mental whiplash setting in about now.
OK, let me get this straight, Jesus – I really am trying to understand what you’re saying here… Harvest – really good. Plentiful – check. Labor – hard, but fulfilling, got it. Task – impossible… huh??? I don’t know, Jesus – this sort of sounds like you’re setting us up to fail, doesn’t it? You’re sending us out there without enough workers to do an impossible task? What is that supposed to accomplish?”
Settle down there, Sparky (that’s you, reader, and me) – let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Doesn’t this sound familiar?
Be perfect as I am perfect. Impossible task.
Love your enemies. Impossible task.
Forgive them seventy times seven. Impossible task.
Turn to him the other cheek. Impossible task.
If anyone would follow me let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. Impossible task.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Impossible task.
Do not fear them that can kill the body…. OK – is it just me or does this sound impossible, too?
All of these things are impossible, except that nothing is impossible with God.
So let’s look at those commands again.
Be perfect – Christ makes it possible.
Love your enemies – Christ makes it possible.
Forgive those who wrong you – Christ makes it possible.
Turn the other cheek – Christ makes it possible.
You get the idea… Go to work at a task which simply aren’t enough of you for…. Christ makes that possible, too.
The beauty in all of the “impossibles” in our lives is that God gets all the glory. When Moses had to win a battle against the heavily armed, highly trained Egyptian army with a bunch of terrified, cowering slaves – everyone there knew it was impossible for God’s people to prevail – except that with God, it wasn’t.
When Gideon had to win a battle being ridiculously outnumbered 300 to… so many that they are described as, “like locusts… and grains of sand in their abundance”… everyone there knew God’s people prevailing there was impossible, too. Except that with God, it wasn’t.
When Joshua was told to instruct the priests, and then the army to go march around a city blowing horns in order to prevail against it, OK, come on – that was just humiliating in its impossibility. Except that with God, it was anything but.
So this is starting to get clearer, now, isn’t it?
Jesus is telling us – “Go. I have a ridiculously impossible task for you to do. Trust me on this one, it’s completely outside of your skill set – I mean really. There aren’t enough of you and there’s no way you can do it, but I want you to go and do it anyway. Because with me, all things are possible.”
So what are we waiting for?!