One of my jobs on the farm is to keep an eye on the two asparagus patches. It’s simple enough. Watch for the spears to poke up from the ground and wait until they’re large enough to cut, but not too large. There’s a timing in the cutting. Too soon and they don’t fulfill their potential. Too late and they’re woody and not good for eating.
I’ve gotten better at spotting them. At first when Mel was showing me the patches, I was standing by one patch and he said, “Cut those.”
“The ones next to your feet.”
Sure enough, I looked down and there were at least four of them so close to me I almost stepped on them. It reminded me of a time years ago when I was with a family in their secret morel mushroom patch in southeast Iowa. It was located in a wooded area in the country somewhere. They didn’t blindfold me, but I knew I could never find my way back there on my own. There were too many twists and turns on unfamiliar roads. It was a rare privilege that they asked me to come along on the hunt. Families never share the location of their morel patches. They pass that information on as part of their inheritance to the next generation.
I admit there is a thrill in the hunt. I was excited to find the mushrooms. I envisioned finding so many I wouldn’t know what to do with all of them. However, I couldn’t find even one. The family was seeing them everywhere, but my bag remained empty. The worst part was their 3-year-old son who was standing next to me reached down and picked one that was right next to my shoe. I only saw it as his little hand was yanking it out of the ground. They kindly shared some of their mushrooms with me, but they never asked me back.
Recently, I was in the asparagus patch happily cutting some spears. I thought there were just a few ready. But as I looked closer, I saw a spear sticking up from some tall grass. As I pulled the grass and got closer to the spear I discovered that there were spears hiding in the grass. I pulled more grass. I also removed the old stalks from last year. The more I cleaned up the patch, the more asparagus appeared.
By the time I finished, the discard pile was high and two sacks were overflowing with asparagus.
I had to remove the weeds to see the harvest that was waiting there all the time. It was hiding in plain view, but obscured by all the things that should have been tossed aside at the beginning of the season. There are similarities in life.
There are so many distractions that we can easily become obsessed with things of this world. Some are seemingly harmless. Some are not. All can be like weeds that infiltrate and take over. We spend so much time with our hobbies and other pursuits that we sometimes forget about what’s right around us.
After his resurrection, Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 that “…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is the Great Commission. Jesus tells his followers who he is. He’s on the same level as the Father and the Holy Spirit. Baptize others in all three names. All authority has been given to him. He’s going to the heavenly kingdom, yet he’ll still be with them. He’s omnipresent.
Jesus commands his followers to do his work on earth. As they go about their lives, they are to notice those who do not know the Lord. They might be as close as the morel mushroom by my shoe. Or the asparagus growing next to my feet.
The point is, we who are true believers and disciples of Jesus are to be kingdom minded. Not as in the recent royal wedding, but as in the kingdom of God. Not only for ourselves, but for those around us who are lost, hiding in the weeds of sin and ripe for the harvest.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2). Those right around us are our asparagus patch. We need to open our eyes and lovingly share the kingdom of God with them so that they can grow to their full potential here on earth, planting seeds of hope and love in others, before they go home to heaven.