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Dear Hyde Park Family,

It’s harvest season in the fields and farms across the country, and a time of year I gained an appreciation for during my eight years serving in Iowa. Farmers are in their combines, reaping the benefits of their risk: planting last spring, waiting over the summer, watching as nature ran its unpredictable course.

Don and Jeanne Blackstone were members of my church in Cherokee, Iowa, and they invited me one day to ride the combine on their farm. Don told me it had been a good growing season that year, with the corn stalks surpassing that fabled standard of “Knee-high by the Fourth of July.”

He then corrected my misunderstanding of what constituted a “good harvest.” I had always thought that the taller a corn stalk gets, the more ears of corn grow on them. Not so, it turns out.

No matter how tall a corn stalk gets, it will never have more than two ears of corn. The difference between a good and bad yield is not found in the number of ears per stalk, but in the number of kernels per ear. It’s not about the quantity of the ears per stalk. It’s about the quality of the ears themselves.

As a city kid, my mind was blown.


This discovery on the Blackstone’s farm has since served as a helpful reminder to me of what constitutes a healthy spiritual life. We might have the false assumption that spiritual maturity is defined only as doing more and more things for God: more works of piety and more holy deeds, like notches in our belt or check marks on a to-do list.

But it’s less about the quantity of our actions and more about the quality and depth of our actions. It’s less about growing more impressive in the eyes of others, and more about growing deeper in our heart, soul, mind, and strength.


As our worship series “All In” draws to a close, our 35 days of daily activities are coming to an end. I would love to hear from you how these cards have been helpful to you.

Moving forward, here’s how these cards can help. You might repeat the 35-day journey during seasons of your spiritual life when you need to recharge. You can even shuffle the cards and go in a different order, to discover new patterns in your journey.

But in the spirit of “growing deeper,” you might choose to identify the handful of cards that were particularly meaningful for you over the last five weeks. Those activities that spoke to you and resonated with you may be an indication from the Spirit. You might choose to incorporate the activities on those cards on a more regular basis – daily or weekly – and make them a regular part of your spiritual disciplines.

Doing so would lead you to creating a unique “rule of life” that you can use to frame your spiritual practices. Like planks on a trellis, those select activities, practiced regularly, could become the structure upon which your harried and chaotic life can begin to bloom and produce the beauty of God’s love.

God may be calling you into a season of bountiful harvest in your life. A season of abundance, fruitfulness, and beauty. If so, it is less about growing more impressive in the eyes of others, and more faithful in the practices that will help you blossom.

See you Sunday as we conclude our series, and happy harvesting!

Grace and Peace,