The morning after I did my exhortation found me in a state of nostalgia. As I layed there staring at the ceiling and picking apart the previous night, a phrase I had heard before came to me…”came to me”. I think it was Bishop T.D Jakes who did a sermon on the topic and I had carried it around in the back of my mind ever since.
The phrase I heard like a soft whisper in my mind was, “glean behind the reapers”. I knew what gleaning meant by the context it was used in but I hadn’t actually gotten the full revelation of what it meant to glean. So I looked it up.
To glean means, “to gather slowly and labourously, bit by bit, to gather after the reapers or regular gatherers”. I thought, “okay, that means I should be picking up something and taking my time to do it, no rush, but a little at a time”.
Then I thought of the reapers. Who exactly are the reapers and what do they do?
In an agricultural society, Reapers are people who cut and gather a harvest when it is ripe. For example, when the harvest is ready, they are the ones who go into the field and collect it and take it into the barn or storage area. These are the “regular gatherers” which means, they know exactly what they are doing. They are the ones who are seeing the fruitful reward of their hard labour.
I translated the entire phrase as such, “follow the people whose experience has afforded them the wisdom to be successful in what they do and learn from them, picking up valuable information as you go along. They are the ones most familiar with the process, from start to finish and is most likely to guide you through so you too can have the same results.”
I hope I haven’t lost you by this.
So, we don’t live in an agricultural society (most of us don’t anyway), but we can learn something from the process of gleaning and reaping wherever we are. The advice I was given is one I would like to share with you today and that is, don’t be too hasty to reap, take the necessary time to glean.
We live in a society where we are encouraged to be over-ambitious. We are applauded for not taking our time but to throw caution to the wind and take big chances. Everyone wants to be the boss, the head of something and that restraint, that patience which is so very important is by-passed. This is a grave mistake because what ends up happening is that we self-promote rather than allowing the promotion of God.
It is important to remember one huge lesson, if God didn’t put you there, more than likely you won’t stay there. Patience is a virtue.
The book of Ruth depicts a fascinating story, almost fairy-tale like, of a young Moabitess widow who, having been given the choice to go home, decided to stay with her mother-in-law Naomi who was widowed herself. Both journeyed to Bethlehem which was Naomi’s hometown to live, but upon reaching there, they fell on harder times.
Ruth, in a strange land, surrounded by strange people who served a strange God went to a field to glean. That is, pick up scraps here and there so that she and her mother in law could survive. Patiently, she went day after day, picking up a little at a time until the owner of the field Boaz took notice of her and instructed his men to drop even more wheat for her to pick up. Long story short, Ruth married Boaz and went from picking up scraps to owning the entire field.
I made note of how diligent and humble Ruth was when she was gleaning. She didn’t complain about the unfairness of her situation, she didn’t become bitter at all those who had more than she did and most importantly, she didn’t quit. Rather, she was patient and in due time, God’s time, she was elevated. Those who were there before her also learned to respect her, no longer an impoverished outsider but their new boss.
This is what God does. It is marvelous how he works. God doesn’t honour the rat-race, crab-in-a-barrel, step on the little people mentality. He rewards hard work, patience and a willingness to wait on his promotion.
1 Peter 5:5 says, “God’s strong hand is on you, he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God, he is most careful with you” (MSG Trans). In other words, don’t spend your time thinking of how fast you can get up the ladder, trust God to promote you, and he will, after you are adequately prepared. In this way, when you get to the top, you’ll stay there.
Once God promotes you, no man can demote you.
So I’m thinking of all of us with big audacious dreams. God has placed some “impossible” things in our hearts but we are still not above preparation. Our purpose is set, its true, but we have to make room for it so that when we final get to the top of that ladder, God gets the glory.
My advice is, find a reaper. Someone you admire who has made it.
My friend who wants to be a Talk Show Host and Film Producer looks up to Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. Two awesome black people. She gleans by following their stories, especially Tyler Perry’s and takes to heart his bits of advice on his Facebook page. He encourages her to never give up even when it looks impossible, after-all, he waited years to finally see a return on all his years of hard work.
Are there any reapers closer to home? Do you want a good husband? First, learn how to be a good wife from someone who has managed this job for years. Talk to her, get her advice, and watch the way she communicates with her husband. You may find that compromise has saved her marriage several times. And you can apply this lesson when your own husband comes along. It may mean the difference between a long marriage and an annulment.
Do you want to teach? Look for a teacher who has impacted lives, find out her secrets; how she manages the diversity of her students and remains calm under stress. Open your mind not just to the joys of the job but also the pains and pick up as much as you can from this exemplary reaper.
The only thing you can hear from this generation of young people is, “climbing the corporate ladder” but it may seem easier than it looks. How about tailing your manager for a while? You may find that coming in before the entire staff and leaving well after everyone else is just not your thing. You may learn a thing or two about handling disputes and encouraging those around you to do their best while maintaining their respect. All valuable lessons you’ll need when you start your own business.
Glean behind the Reapers was my advice and I am sharing it with you. There is no shame in gleaning, picking up bits of information that others casually drop by the wayside.
My Reapers have taught me about the importance of prayer, the benefits of radical faith and Obedience to God. I didn’t have to ask for advice, I merely listened as they spoke and each time they dropped a word of wisdom, I collected it and put it in my basket.
God gives us the grace to dwell in someone else’s shadow for a time and count it a privilege. Timothy found a great mentor in Paul, Joshua took the mantle from Moses and Elisha refused to leave Elijah’s side. What does Joshua, Timothy and Elisha have in common? They all eventually became the successors of their reapers.
Elisha notably received a double portion of his predecessor’s anointing and went on to do twice as many miracles as Elijah did (2 Kings), While in the New testament, we see Jesus preparing His disciples to continue in His stead.
My point is, before you can be the star of the show, garner all you can as the understudy; make your mistakes, ask questions, learn from them and persevere. It is a cycle, you will reap one day and someone will glean behind you.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to “get there”, humility and patience will open the door to God’s divine and irrefutable appointment.
Your promotion is at the end of your preparation.
“Humble yourselves in the Lord’s presence. Then he will give you a high position.” James 4:10
[ photo credit: www.venitism.blogspot.com ]