Who Wrote It? Pastor Joel Vande Werken on "God's Harvest Work"

By Josh DeGroot

October 1, 2016

Have you ever finished reading your daily Today devotion and wondered what inspired the author’s thoughts and reflections? If so, our “Who Wrote It” feature is just for you. Listen to this podcast interview and follow along with the transcript below to learn more about this month’s author and what he hopes you might take away from this series.

Josh DeGroot – Welcome to todaydevotional.com’s Who Wrote It, where we get to know our Today authors better, and understand the inspiration behind their writing.

Pastor Joel Vande Werken, the author of October Today devotional is joining me on the line, and we are happy he is. Joel, thanks for coming on.

Joel Vande Werken – Thanks; I am glad to be here, too.

Josh DeGroot – You wrote this month about God’s harvest work, and how the Bible pictures God’s work in our lives as harvesting, and the season of harvest begins. What inspired you to write about this topic?

Joel Vande Werken – Well, I have always been kind of interested in the life of farming, although a lot of times it was from a distance. I didn’t grow up in a farm area. I grew up, actually, on the edge of the suburbs, but we had a couple of farm families in our church, and that would have been my first exposure to farming. There has always been something interesting about the rich variety of growing things, and the way that God provides different plants for nourishment; and that has always been something that kind of intrigued me. I ended up marrying into a farming family. My wife grew up on a farm, and for the last ten years I have served a church in a farming community, so it has been something that I have been exposed to a lot more as a way of life; and I think, just in that setting, the Bible’s agricultural images made attractive backdrop for the conversation about spiritual growth and development, and that is what I wanted to explore in these devotions.

Josh DeGroot – The one particular devotion was my favorite, when you talk about resting. Christians know on the seventh day, on the Sabbath, we are required to rest…or we should; but a lot of us don’t, like you acknowledge and you talk about, because we have places to be and money has to be made. What is the best way to help us rest when all we want to do is go, go, go?

Joel Vande Werken – Well, one of the things I think that has helped me in processing the idea of Sabbath is to remember that I cannot do it all, and of course, that is not something that always keeps us from trying – keeps me from trying. There is something basic to human nature, I think, that wants us to keep going, like you said, to live for ourselves and provide everything for ourselves so that we don’t really need God, we don’t have to depend on him; and what I think Sabbath does is it really slows us down and it reminds us that there are some things that…it is okay not to do everything; in fact, there are some things we cannot do. Like we cannot cause a plant to grow. When it comes to our own lives, we cannot change a sinful heart; and as Christians, we say that no matter how hard we work we cannot do it all, and that is actually a good thing because it shows us our need for God and for Christ. I think that is something that I need to remember, and I think that is something that all of us need to remember.

Josh DeGroot – You talk about rest and you also talk about patience, patience for the harvest. Patience is a virtue, as the old proverb says. Many of us feel like we haven’t been treated fairly, or that maybe work is unfair, or that God really has forgotten about us. How can we individually be more patient and accept that God’s harvest is coming, but in his timing?

Joel Vande Werken – Sometimes I think it helps to slow down and ask ourselves about the bigger picture; ask what God might be doing in us or through us, even despite the pain we are experiencing at the moment. I think about Jesus telling us to consider the lilies, to observe how intricately and carefully God crafts each growing thing, and to remember that we are far more valuable than the flowers of the field. You think about Good Friday, as well. It seems then the last chapter was written in God’s story. Evil had triumphed forever; yet, just three days later the tomb was empty and new life appearing; and that new life is the same life that comes to us in Christ. Just like God creates seasons in the natural world, I think we go through seasons in our lives, too; and because we have seen what happens in Jesus, we can trust, too, that God will be equally faithful with our souls, just as he is faithful with the cycles of the natural world.

Josh DeGroot – Absolutely; a change in seasons and a nice, inviting change in the writing for October’s Today devotional. He is Pastor Joel Vande Werken; I am Josh DeGroot; together let’s be refreshed, refocused, renewed at todaydevotional.com.

About the author — Josh DeGroot

Josh DeGroot is a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago. Josh began as a sound engineer with Back to God Ministries International in July 2008. In addition to the "Who Wrote It?" interviews for Today, Josh works on almost every audio project produced by Back to God in the US. He also writes and produces episodes for our sister ministry, the children's program, Kids Corner. Josh lives in Alsip, IL with his wife. They are expecting their first child.

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