We harvest our walnuts this time of year. It’s Monday morning, and I can hear the machines shaking the trees. The hum of heavy equipment creating a swirl of dust in the orchard. A north wind is blowing, making the dust fly far and wide. Dust is better than mud, that’s for sure.
I’ve been praying this day would come before the rain arrives. Our family doesn’t own nut harvesting equipment yet. The machinery is very expensive. So we wait our turn. Last in line to get our nuts to market. It’s kind of nerve-wracking. California’s rainy season begins in October. If the orchard gets too muddy, the machines can’t come in and do their work. But they’re here today, so I sigh in relief. Our harvest has come.
And harvest is hard on the trees. The walnut trees have to be big enough to shake. And rooted enough to remain standing when the machine gets a hold of them and then moves on. I sympathize with the trees. I’ve been shaken in my life, too.
A few years ago, I came down with melanoma cancer. Had surgery. Couldn’t walk for a while. And when I did, I collapsed and was hospitalized with an exhaustion breakdown. The medical bills wiped out our savings, and had us paying mortgage-sized monthly payments to doctors and the hospital for a long time. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, fourteen-year-old cousin Anna was killed in a car accident.
Our family was crushed.
Do you feel like you’re being crushed right now? Are trials shaking your life? Will all the suffering break you or will it make you better? “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered,” Hebrews 5:8. If Jesus learned to obey God through suffering, why should we learn any differently?
Yesterday I was talking to one of my daughters. I’m headed to a writing retreat next week and scared about going. My breakdown began at a writing conference four years ago. I associate writer events with losing it and being carried away to a hospital the next day. After shredding the jeans I was wearing once I was home. Yeah, it’s true. Yanking at the holes in the knees, I ripped the jeans off my body with my bare hands, and then slapped my dad’s face when he tried to calm me down in the front yard. After this, I told the sheriff, who handcuffed me, he was Santa Claus.
“Are you here to get me, Santa Claus?” I said before they stuck me in an ambulance. Which hurt the sheriff’s feelings, Scott told me later, because the sheriff had a big belly and a bald head and it would have been better had I cussed him out like I was cussing everybody else. I was out of my mind and don’t really remember this. The sheriffs, firemen, and ambulance crew all thought someone had slipped me drugs at the writer’s conference. I’m not sure why a dozen first responders showed up at our house when my friend, Kay, called 911, requesting an ambulance for a sick woman. It’s kind of a long, hysterical, horrifying story. I’ll tell you about it sometime, but not today.
“You know, Mom, you’re so much better now after your breakdown. Good things came out of that terrible time. Our family is better for it too,” my daughter said yesterday.
There is a purpose for the shaking that happens to you. Farmers don’t just go out and shake the dickens out of their trees for no good reason. Farmers are after a harvest. And God is after something when you’re being shaken.
We call my breakdown the gift that keeps on giving. For the rest of my life, I’ll be eating humble pie. And the loss of financial stability has taught us God gives us our daily bread. Every day, Scott and I pray together, “Lord, You are our provider, please give us our daily bread.”
We don’t pray for bread tomorrow. We pray for manna today. We now live one day at a time, trusting God to take care of us.
And the terrible loss of Anna has taught me time is short. I’m going to tell people about Jesus. I don’t know how much time you have left. I don’t know how much time I have left. Anna was a beautiful, healthy kid, here one moment, gone the next. She loved Jesus. So I know she’s in heaven, but do you love Jesus? Are you going to heaven? I don’t hesitate anymore to ask these hard questions.
A harvest of pain has taught me not to waste my time on meaningless things. I’m going to make life matter. I’m going to live with eternity in view. Heaven is a real place and I read everything I could about heaven after Anna died because Anna’s mom asked me some questions about heaven before the funeral and I couldn’t answer her because I didn’t know. In the sidebar, I’ve added a link to a book on heaven by Randy Alcorn that helped me.
Before Anna’s death, I was like the duck in the puddle in the middle of the road, when right over the hill was the beautiful pond. I preferred my puddle until Anna died. The pain of losing her made me look for the pond. We all should be looking for the pond, not playing mindlessly in life’s puddles.
If you’re being shaken right now, ask God what He’s trying to teach you. What He’s trying to shake out of you. A harvest is happening. Don’t miss what really counts. Make your harvest matter.
Maybe you noticed we are trying something new here on the blog. Scott and I have discovered an awesome old devotion: Valley of Vision. We’re reading it every morning together and love what we are learning about God through its pages. If you’d like to get the devotion, it’s advertised in the sidebar. In the future, we will be adding advertisements of books and products we think you might like.
The age of the Internet has changed everything. I once wrote for newspaper, and there was always an advertisement page. Several times now, the Internet has somehow highjacked my website, and added random advertisements. We’ve removed them, but have decided if we can’t beat em, we’ll join em. Hope you don’t mind.
Thanks for your time. I know there are a million other things you could be doing right now. I really appreciate you visiting our orchard here on the blog, seeing the trees being shaken, and thinking about the harvest happening in your own life today.