In Montana, one of the most important farm crops is wheat—Montana winter wheat. In the fall, the farmers plow up the dark, rich earth and then they plant the winter wheat seeds. All winter the wheat lies dormant in the cold weather, but as soon as spring comes, the green little shoots come up like green grass out of the black earth.
Christi, Diana, and Zane watched as the wheat grew tall and green with perfect heads of wheat at the top. But it was not ready to harvest yet. Under the hot sun the wheat stalks turned a rich, golden yellow. Then the strong summer winds blew over the field of wheat and it looked like waves on a golden ocean.
When the wheat was almost ready to harvest, Dad walked to the edge of the wheat field. He picked a head of ripe, golden wheat. Putting the wheat between his hands, his rubbed it back and forth. The wheat berries fell out of their little pockets and into his hands. When he blew on them, all the chaff flew away and only the wheat berries were left. Dad popped that handful of wheat into his mouth.
“Ooh, that looks yucky,” Christi wrinkled up her nose.
“You won’t know until you try some,” laughed Dad. “Here, I’ll show you how.”
“I want to try some,” said Zane, eagerly!
Zane would try anything, thought Christi.
Zane and Diana began rubbing wheat between their hands and popping it into their mouths. They chewed and chewed and chewed.
“Aren’t you going to swallow it?” asked Christi.
“If you keep chewing, the kernels will break down and turn into gum,” Dad said.
Gum, thought Christi. I love gum. Maybe I’ll try some after all.
The wheat tasted good, like Mom’s home-made bread. It was so hard at first that Christi thought her teeth would break. But after awhile it became a soft chewy ball. Soon they all had mouths full of wheat gum. When they got tired of chewing they could swallow the gum because it was just wheat.
Later that day as the kids headed into town with Mom they noticed some smoke up ahead. Often they would see clouds of smoke at harvest time, but they never worried about it because they knew that after the farmers harvested their wheat, some of them would start little fires in the wheat fields to burn back the stubble that was left. But as they passed by the smoke, Zane’s head swung around.
“Mom,” he shouted, “Look! That wheat field is on fire.”
Mom slowed the car and pulled to the side of the road. Sure enough, they could see little red tongues of flame through the smoke. But this was not a stubble fire. This fire was at the edge of a wheat field that was just ready to harvest, and a strong wind was spreading the flames quickly. Mom turned the car around and sped up the long driveway to the farmhouse. The kids all tumbled out of the car as Mom knocked on the door. There was no answer from within. Mom looked nervously back at the fire.
“I’m not sure what to do if no one is at home,” she said, anxiously.
She knocked again on the door, very loudly this time. Finally they heard hurried footsteps coming toward the door. Mom looked relieved as the door swung open.
The lady standing in the open doorway wore a big apron and her hands and arms were all covered with flour and bread dough.
“Oh, I’m sorry it took me so long to come to the door,” she laughed, breathless from hurrying. “I’m right in the middle of making a batch of bread, and I was trying to get all this dough off my hands!”
“That’s all right,” replied Mom. “We noticed a fire at the corner of your wheat field that is spreading in this wind. We did not know if you had seen it.”
The lady stepped quickly out of the house to look at the fire. “Oh dear!” she looked alarmed. “No, I had not seen it.”
“Someone must have thrown a cigarette out of their car window,” said Mom.
“I’m sure you are right,” replied the woman. “I am so thankful you came and told me about it. My husband is gone right now, so I’ll have to call our neighbor to help me put it out. Thank you so much.” She reached out her hand and, disregarding all the bread dough, gave Mom’s hand a quick squeeze. Then she disappeared into the house.
As they turned and made their way back down the driveway, Christi could see a neighbor’s truck already heading toward the fire. She knew it would not take long to put out the fire now.
“We must thank God for your sharp eyes,” said Mom, to Zane. “With the wind blowing like it is today, that farmer could have lost his whole wheat crop if we had not caught the fire in time.”
“I’m glad, too!” grinned Zane.
“You know,” said Mom, “that fire is just like the naughty things we do or say sometimes.”
“What do you mean?” asked Christi.
“Well, every day we plant seeds that grow just like the farmer’s wheat crop,” Mom replied. “Those seeds are thoughts and actions that become habits. And good habits will grow if we cultivate them and will eventually become like the ripe wheat; a strong, good character. But just like that little fire in the corner of the wheat field, one wrong thought or deed, if not put away immediately, can grow very quickly and spoil our whole character; the crop that we had so carefully tended.”
Jesus is coming soon to harvest His crop—those with a pure, righteous character. I hope you will make sure that your crop, your pure character, is ready for Jesus’ harvest. Every day, ask Jesus to help you put out the little fires of sin so that you will be ready for Him to come.
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7.