Those beans didn’t look ripe, those curling vines covering the wooden trellis and tomatoes and cucumbers and edges of the garden like some crazy jungle vine. I checked under the leaves all summer and found hardly anything–barely a green growing thing to pick. So I ignored them and focused on the showier plants while pulling dandelions and crab grass and other seedy weeds that didn’t belong.

And I got busy and distracted.

When I visited the garden again those beans had gone wild–leafing into a sea that flowed over everything in reach. Still, by the end of August, I found not many beans. So, I picked the few I found, figuring that was all we’d get.

And I weeded and picked delicate lettuce and heavy, red tomatoes and crisp, green peppers and spiny cucumbers and got busy again.

Then the late summer rains came. Summer charged into fall. Pumpkins appeared in dooryards, and mums brightened the bare spots where other blooms lay whithered and gray. The air turned cold.

Figuring it was time to pull the plants, I returned to the garden last week to find that bean vine now so massive, it had completely overtaken every living thing. No worry, I’d just rip it out.

Only, when I lifted those leaves, I found pods long as pencils and swollen with seed, their hardened shells now yellowed and tough from having been left too long.

Stunned, I turned to my son, raking soil nearby, and said, “I missed the harvest.”

Only as I began to pull those heavy-laden vines up by their roots did I realize just how much I’d missed–hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of beans that would have filled several bushels. And not because the seeds hadn’t produced. Because the seeds hadn’t produced when I’d expected. I’d checked too early. My timing had been off.

All summer I’d worked that garden but missed the reward my work was producing. Some gardener!

And I thought of how my work is also wasted if I see only the early pickings, the small gleanings, and don’t show up when the full result is ready.

It’s all about timing. And seasons. And being present when the seeds you planted so long ago finally bear fruit.

There’s the work of our hands and the work of our homes and the work of our hearts. But there’s more too. There’s His work, ripening the hearts of those He’s placed in our paths who would be saved.

The further we stray from the soil and the seasons, the less we recognize what’s coming. There’s no reversing the months, no picking the hardened harvest. It isn’t enough to turn soil or plant seeds; we must show up when the crop is ready or lives will be wasted.

“You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest,” John 4:35.

What do you think?