The Appointed Time

A few weeks ago Martyn was up early one morning when he heard a bell ringing five or six times downstairs. Just to explain – Linda’s 92-year-old Dad lives with us and sleeps downstairs. He has a bell next to his bed to summon us if he needs us in the night, so Martyn assumed that he was calling. However, when he got downstairs, Arnold was fast asleep! STRANGE! He crept out of Arnold’s room and thought no more about it. About a week later, we both heard the bell ring (just once this time) so we both headed downstairs to see what was going on. Same thing again – Arnold was fast asleep in bed! We were somewhat puzzled by this and assumed that the Lord was trying to get our attention over something – but what? As we thought and asked the Lord what he was saying, a few things came to mind.

The Action is About to Start!

When you go to a theatre you tend to get there earlier than the time the play begins – it’s great fun to mill around the theatre, mingling with people buying programs or ordering their drinks for the interval. Once when we went to see Les Miserables in Manchester there were people dressed in the same costumes the cast would be dressed in – it all added to the anticipation of what was to come. There’s an air of excitement – we’re all there to see the performance and to enjoy the next few hours together – not only to be ‘entertained’ but also throw ourselves into the experience of what the production is about to portray. THEN . . . The bell rings! It tells us a couple of things -

Firstly, “get to your places”. We all have an assigned seat – we can’t just sit anywhere. We’ve paid for our ticket and it gives us the right to take up that place reserved for us.

Secondly, “the action is about to start”. The event we’ve been looking forward to for some time; the action we’ve been waiting to see is about to start.

We may have been waiting for a long time for this day to come, we may have been imagining in our minds what this event was going to be like, but now we’re here and the action is about to start; and, if the producer, director and cast have done their preparation well, we’re about to embroil ourselves in the story as it unfolds.

The Harvest is Near

During a time of worship and intercession recently, someone had a picture of a field of corn with the sun shining on it – the corn was waving gently in the breeze. It looked like a field that was about to be harvested – ripe and ready for harvest. It seemed like the Lord was saying that the harvest is coming soon but we don’t see it if we look around us. It’s easy to see the situation as so barren and many of us feel we’ve been praying and waiting for God to move to bring about this harvest. For many many years we’ve prayed and waited and there’s no sign of it. But God is saying, “It’s coming soon.”

Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

That applies to many of us; we’ve sown over the years with many tears but we’ve not yet seen the harvest. The Lord wants to encourage us that the harvest is not far away and to carry on sowing because it will surely come.

We believe that part of the mandate for Vinelife UK is to prepare the church for this upcoming harvest. The harvest is wasted if the farmer has not really prepared for it to be brought in. To change the analogy slightly, one of the things Bob Jones spoke to us about 23 years ago was about the need for “fish cleaners” – we don’t have enough fish cleaners. He talked about the situation where the HS would be moving so powerfully in a region like this that there would be 1000, 1500, maybe 2000 people would become Christians overnight – what do you do with them?

When God moves so powerfully, the people who get swept into the Kingdom are not going to be neat and tidy – to be honest, we couldn’t bring them into even the best of our churches because we’re just not ready for them; we’d be overwhelmed. So the Lord’s been saying to us, “Prepare the church for the harvest; prepare the church for the harvest; prepare the church for the harvest.” Time is short, something’s imminent – things are accelerating. There’s a downward spiral happening if you look at the bleak landscape of the world around us.