Del Tarr grew up in parsonages in Minnesota and South Dakota, and most of his friends lived on farms. Crops were sown, cultivated, and harvested, but never once did he see farmers weeping over the seed. Later, as a Bible student, he was perplexed by Psalm 126. Why did the sower go forth with weeping?
Later, Del served as missionary just below the Sahara Desert in West Africa, where the climate is similar to that of Bible lands. The rainfall comes in May through August. The other eight months are bitterly hot and bone dry, dust from the Sahara getting inside of everything—mouths, houses, even wristwatches.
No farming is possible those eight months. Everything must be grown May through August. In the fall, granaries are full and so are stomachs. The people seem happy, their lives overflowing in song and dance and fellowship. By December supplies begin to recede and families begin eating but one meal a day. By February, people feel hungry. By March, food is rationed to one-half meal a day, and the children cry from hunger.
April is the month that haunts my memory. The dust filters down through the air, and sounds carry for long distances. April is the month you hear the babies crying at twilight. Their mother’s milk is now stopped. …
Then, inevitably, it happens. A six- or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. “Daddy! Daddy! We’ve got grain! Out in the hut where we keep the goats—there’s a leather sack hanging on the wall—Daddy, there’s grain in there.”
The father motionless. “Son, we can’t do that,” he softly explains. “That’s next year’s seed grain. It’s the only thing between us and starvation. We’re waiting for the rains, and then we must use it.”
Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and—I’ve seen it—with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt!
Why? Because he believes in the harvest.
Robert J. Morgan