And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ Matthew 20:6-7
Often this parable is taught as if the workers were being sent into the harvest of the vineyard. But though harvest is the high point of any year in farming, Jesus never mentions harvesting. Often people forget that in every season of the year there is work to be done on a farm and all of the seasons matter to God in His vineyard. The owner kept going out to find workers even till the eleventh hour because of the urgency of the work.
I am more a pruner of apple trees than of grapevines, but the process is very much the same. As we sit in Winter it seems the hopes and the flowers of Summer are only a distant memory, But, God has a job to be done even under the load of Winter snow. This is the time of pruning and it begins when the trees reach full dormancy. At that moment when everything seems cold and hopeless the preparations for next year’s harvest urgently need to begin.
That is the perfect time for pruning away the sucker growth that will rob the plants of their fruit bearing strength. Those are the days when diseased branches can be cut out without spreading the infections. That is the exact moment when the dead branches no longer can hide under the leaves of the living and can be stripped away to open the trees up to sunshine and air.
As co-workers in God’s vineyard we should never be discouraged in whatever season He is sending us out to work. Even at the eleventh hour Jesus sends us out with His promise that we will receive from Him His reward of equal grace. It is never too late, nor too early to press ahead with the work He has sent us to do.