Work in the Wild

by Rev. Brad Sheppard via his site Holy Encounter

As a kid I picked blackberries with my mother and grandmother on hot Southern summer days. The blackberries grew wild in pastures and along roadsides. I distinctly remember picking with my grandma the berries that grew along a curvy country road near my home. The tall and broad bushes offered buckets of the fruit that we picked as cars passed by. Every blackberry picking outing included my mom and grandma recalling how once while picking blackberries angry bees chased them through a pasture. They always recounted this harrowing moment with such lightheartedness. They delighted in their speedy escape.

Honestly, I never did and still do not care too much for fresh blackberries. But bake them into a cobbler and top with vanilla ice cream and I can eat them until as Southerners used to say, “I’m full as tick.” Blackberry cobbler was the taste of summer. And, oh, how I enjoy it still.

The work of God into which we are invited and called is much like blackberry picking. We venture out to pick the fruit of vines we neither planted nor tended—vines that are often wild and in wild places. But pick we do and gather a harvest that is beautiful, bright and satisfying. Sure, there is some danger involved but it is well worth it at the end of the day when you enjoy the result of your labor. And all the while you find yourself filled with gratitude for what God provides and what God does even along roadsides and among wild places.

Jesus once told his followers that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. He said this as he looked with compassion on the crowds of helpless and hurting folks and then he immediately sent his disciples out to do his work. Jesus needed their help—he needed their hands, voices and hearts to heal and help. Jesus needs us too. So he sends us out along roadsides and into wild places to do the good work of God.

So, where is he sending you, me and us? Well, we may not know for certain but we can be sure it is among the hurting and helpless. So let’s go! And remember the harvest is always beautiful, bright and satisfying—and there may even be cobbler!