Pumpkin spice. Love it or hate it, its arrival is a modern sign of the changing season. More traditionally, when the leaves begin to turn and the air feels crisp, autumn has arrived and it’s fall, y’all!

Honestly, I am new to the fall. I’ve lived most of my life in Southern California where there are really only two seasons – summer, and not-so-summer. Over the last year and a half, my husband and I have lived in both Tennessee and New England and experienced real seasons for the first time. I had no idea! The majesty of the fall is unmatched! 

What you call it depends greatly on where and how you were raised. Most of the world refers to this season as autumn, while those of us in the US tend to refer to it as the fall, but if you are at all associated with farming, you’ll be more inclined to call it “the harvest.” But no matter what you call it, or even if your part of the world experiences it as significantly as some others, fall is a season of dichotomy. It brings hard work and celebration, feasting and storing, the end of one thing and the beginning of another, and once again, transition.  

 Everyone likes to eat but not everyone wants to do the work, thus the invention of fast food, microwaves, and my favorite, the air fryer. We like results and we like them fast. But when it comes to the harvest, there really is only one way: good old hard work and perseverance. The efforts of any farmer are more far-reaching than most can imagine. Each calculated and timely step in their process invests into something that will bring energy and life to people and even animals. In their own backyard, across the street, in the next town over, and even beyond state or national borders.

Harvest is worth celebrating! I know when I harvested my first batch of homegrown veggies, I was ecstatic. Scripture talks a lot about the feasts and celebration associated with the physical harvest of the soil, but also about the celebration of heaven when one lost sheep is saved – the harvest of the soul. Jesus shares about this celebration in Luke 15:7, “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” What an honor that the Lord chooses to use us to accomplish his plan on this earth. We have the absolute privilege of participating in sowing, watering, and harvesting the joy of the Lord. 

We say, “sharing is caring” but really, sharing is what makes joy complete. Multiple times in the New Testament the phrase “complete joy” is mentioned and it’s always in reference to sharing. Sharing wisdom, knowledge, resources, and love with others makes joy complete.  Part of the joy of feasting and celebration is sharing. Generosity is not reserved only for the harvest but it is certainly where we can till the soil and plant the seeds for another’s salvation and growth.  Scripture is clear that during the harvest, farmers were to intentionally leave some food on the vine or on the earth for those in need to gather behind them. It is also our time to honor the Lord for his goodness, giving back to the Lord what he has so generously given to us in the presentation of our tithes and offerings. 

During the harvest, not only do we work, gather, celebrate and share, but we also prepare. Other than a big Costco trip, I had never been introduced to the idea of storing anything extra. Before living in Tennessee I had no experience with canning and freezing. I now know why the little tops of the mason jars come off with a pop. (it has to do with a vacuum seal). It’s in the fall where, with wisdom, we learn to not just feast but to store in preparation for the seasons to come – the winter – the rest for the soil and the soul.  Like all seasons, both physical and spiritual, this one will change, the fall will lead to some form of winter. How we steward our time and resources now, both natural and spiritual will have great effect on how not only we but those both near and far endure the coming season.

Much like the diligent work it takes in the natural world to reap a harvest, the spiritual season of harvest is a time of awareness and activation. The harvest of anything depends on how we steward every step in the process, there is no “fast pass” when it comes to spiritual growth. The growing process takes perseverance and love and patience (we all love that part, right?) to see it through. We must stay in tune with the Lord to know when and how to act. The Lord has been preparing you for this time, and as Paul says in Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

While The leaves give a tour de force final performance as they show off their beauty and whimsical descent to the ground, we know that the days will soon come when plenty might not be easy, and reward might not be as evident. Technically the fall is when the trees and flowers die, falling to the ground to be used to produce new  growth and new beginnings. It’s the cycle of life. Everything must die, but nothing is wasted.  Spiritually, fall can bring a sense of accomplishment, acknowledging and releasing and relinquishing. An end to some things that may have taken seasons or even decades of effort. A time to give space to the surrender of some things and the culmination of others. A time to open our hands and look up. To accept, to savor, to release and to give. Whether you witness the harvest with your own eyes is not the priority or the end-game. It is that you did and you were and you are and you will be and that He is, now and forevermore, the King of the Harvest.

So bring on the Pumpkin Spice or whatever it is that you do to celebrate this time of year. Inflatable pumpkins, caramel apples, haybales in your truckbed – why not?! You have worked hard for this time. Let’s share this harvest together and celebrate His goodness, His faithfulness, His joy. Well done, you!