Have you ever visited a produce stand in the country? They are all over the place in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can find peaches so ripe; one bite sends the juice streaming down your face. Or white corn so sweet, it doesn’t even need butter. The beefsteak tomatoes are so plump; one thick slice is all you need for a sandwich. And a bushel of freshly picked apples, firm and crisp, has an aroma that overpowers a room full of scented candles. These are the fruits of a well-cultivated harvest—the simple joys of a summer’s yield. When you’ve sampled the harvest straight from the grower, you keep coming back for more.
Farmers know the secret to producing good fruit, season after season. They prepare soil, plant their crops or till the fruit trees, nurture them well, then reap a mighty harvest. Before the ground hardens for its winter sleep, they prepare the soil again. A time tested system, barring nature’s unexpected plans or man’s foibles, it is well known, well worn, and worth revisiting year after year.
How can we view the Sabbath day like a harvest? Looking individually at each element, it isn’t hard to come to love the Sabbath day like you enjoy the fruits of the season.
The Sabbath as seasonal—the season of the Sabbath comes weekly, every seven days.
When Heavenly Father first created the world, he worked for six days, then rested on the seventh. He commanded us to do the same—work for six days and on the seventh day, rest from our labors. For those who truly follow this pattern, resting becomes a rejuvenating time—one that our body and mind needs in order to gear up for another long week of hard work. It can be very difficult to stop your momentum and change gears, exactly when you’d rather keep going. But I’ve always found that when I set aside my work for a day, really set it aside—mind, body, and spirit—I am more creative, more energized, and more productive come Monday than when I choose not to.
The Sabbath Soil—bringing a broken heart and contrite spirit to the land.
Heavenly Father did not simply ask us to rest from our labors, but to set aside time of gratitude and remembrance of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His role in the plan of salvation. God’s eternal plan included a chance to be born, an opportunity to learn and grow through choices in life, and to return to live with Him again. Our spirits and bodies would be cleansed permanently through the grace of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—without Him, we would not be able to progress nor live in a perfect state with our Heavenly Father again. This is the greatest gift offered to all mankind, one of eternal life. Is it too much to ask to thank the one who gave His life to save us? Is it too much to ask to remember Him regularly?
It is in our nature to honor those who die in the line of duty. Indeed, memorials all over the world have been erected and maintained to pay tribute to soldiers who fought for liberty in order to protect the local people. In France, there is a solemn memorial set up for the American pilots who fought with the French during WWI. It is the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial, in St. Cloud, outside of Paris. Each year on Memorial Day, the local people have a joint ceremony with the Americans to honor those who died for them. They continue to do so to this day, nearly one hundred years after the war ended.
The practice of remembrance in this manner is not uncommon. Thus, it is easy to understand why God instructed us to keep the Sabbath day holy. It is one of the original Ten Commandments which he directed the prophet, Moses, to teach the Israelites. We are to remember the one individual who gave the ultimate sacrifice for all, so that we may live with our Heavenly parents and with Jesus Christ again.
To help show this honor, approach the Sabbath day with an open heart. Think of the Sabbath day as a day to prepare the soil of the harvest by bringing to the altar your broken heart and contrite spirit. Really, it is all we have to offer. We cannot repay the gift—after all, it is a gift, and one does not receive a gift based on merit. But we can give back to Him our gratitude and our willingness to remember. This requires an inward look on our lives, a willingness to see our faults and imperfections, and a desire to change for the good. We can offer up our sins for Him to take, to heal, so He can make us new again, week after week.
If our soil is prepared, that is to say, if our hearts are broken, we become rich with faith. We have faith that the Savior will save us. We are willing to repent in exchange for a clean heart. We are ready to take his counsel and receive the blessings of a spiritual harvest like none other.
The Sacrament’s Harvest—the bread and water are the beginning of a sacred and holy pattern.
By taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ, we are promising to keep his commandments that we may always have His spirit to be with us. Imagine waiting all summer for the local harvest to be ready. You finally drive into the roadside market and see an abundance of fruits and vegetables. You make your selection, load up your car, and race home. The smell of the harvest fills your car and your senses—can you even wait to get home to bite into that peach? The blessing of forgiveness is exactly like that. It is a thirst-quenching gift—water to a dying soul. If you can imagine feasting on the long-awaited harvest, imagine the Sabbath day as a feast for the soul. The greatest gift of the harvest is forgiveness. Being clean again is a feeling worth waiting for. The additional gift is to have His spirit to be with us—always. No matter what you may have done to drive the spirit away, you are promised His spirit to be with you when you repent and partake of the sacrament.
Sabbath Day Harvest—make it an all-day remembrance.
If we take the time to set aside one day in seven to remember the Savior, should it end when church services end? I used to think so, but I’ve found over time that when I dedicate more time each Sunday to remembering Christ and showing gratitude to him, I am more able to keep His spirit with me each day in between. It is a gift to rest from daily labors, but it is an even greater gift to be recharged spiritually for the week. Why not take advantage of the full day by focusing on activities that honor the Savior? Start by going to church. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are three important meetings each Sunday—the worship service where we take the sacrament and listen to sermons about the Savior, Sunday school where we learn gospel principles from the scriptures, and Relief Society and Priesthood meetings where we expound upon the gospel principles. Attending all three is very rewarding. To further enjoy the Sabbath day harvest, you can make Sunday a family day, a day to visit the sick or the elderly, or a day to write and reflect on life. Begin by picking one activity and sticking with it. As you feel the benefits, add more. In time, you may not even realize how the time flies on the Sabbath day.
—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea it beginneth to be delicious to me. (Alma 32:28)
The Sabbath Day —can it be delicious to you?
Making the Sabbath day a sacred day again is a good thing for us, a needful thing in our lives. It nourishes a starving heart. It heels an aching soul. It sustains us for one more week. Renew your commitment to the Lord by revisiting your Sabbath Day habits. Then you will reap the rewards of a harvest well cultivated.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.