There once was a young farmer who found great pleasure in working the soil.
And though his pleasure was great as he tilled the soil, his pleasure was rooted in the harvest he saw in his mind.
So he watered the ground with his sweat until the skin peeled from his bleeding hands.
It did not matter that this small farm did not belong to him.
It was his Master's.
The Master had asked him to work the land from daybreak to sunset.
And because the Master had asked, the farmer did.
For ten years the farmer toiled in the heat of the day. He saw floods and fires, pestilence and drought. But still he carried his hoe each day.
Still he scattered the seed.
For ten years the young farmer waited for a harvest.
It did not come.
In time, the Master thanked the farmer for his service and asked him now to work other fields.
So the farmer did.
As the years rolled on and the farmer worked faithfully in his Master's fields, sowing and reaping—seeing the fruit of his labours—he savoured every good crop but often thought of that first farm.
The farm that had no fruit.
He saw other farmers going out to work in that old patch of soil. He saw glimpses of hope that maybe this season would bring some reward.
But many weary farmers returned home in the evening with nothing to show for their labour.
Now, the old farmer still rolls up his sleeves each morning, still picks up his tools, still swings the bag of seed over his shoulders, still asks the Master where he needs the seed sown.
Harvests have come—and gone.
Farming is not for the weak of heart or the soft in spirit.
And as the old farmer works, he asks the Master the one question that has haunted his dreams down through the years.
"Master, would you be so kind to tell me this one thing?"
"If it is mine to tell—I will."
"Do you remember the old farm? The first you asked me to work?"
"I worked hard for ten years in those fields, and I did so with joy, but they were hard years working hard soil."
"Yes. They were."
"May I ask—why was there no fruit?"
"Ahh my son—but there was—I reaped a great harvest."
"You did? But I never saw it—I barely counted a single sheave. How could there have been a great harvest?"
"My son, the harvest was you! In that dry and barren place where you thought no life could be produced from the ground, in that place, you were my garden of delight. Your life produced an aroma that still fills the courts of my dwelling place. Your faithfulness in the midst of barrenness brought an abundance that cannot be contained in the storehouses you build, an abundance that has spilled over into the songs of generations of farmers who have gone before you. Every harvest you have enjoyed in every other field was first reaped in your heart those many years ago."
The old farmer's calloused hands trembled as his eyes glazed with humble gratitude for his Master's grace.
"Master, may I ask one more question?"
"Will that land ever produce a crop?"
"My son, that is not yours to know—now take your hoe and here is your seed, come, there is much to do."