After preaching among the Lamanites for fourteen years, Ammon met with his fellow missionaries to review their experiences and the outcomes. Thousands of people had been converted to the gospel and were now united by their love of God and their commitment to live righteously. Ammon compares the results of their labors to a field of grain after harvesting:
Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted.
Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.Alma 26:5-7
When grain is reaped by hand, the worker cuts down the stalks with a scythe or sickle, then groups them into bundles called sheaves, which are bound together. They can then be stacked together in the field to dry or gathered into a garner (a granary) for protection.
Ammon’s metaphor emphasizes several things about their missionary service:
- It was hard work. The comparison with workers in the field, cutting stalks of grain with a sickle throughout the day, emphasizes the effort and endurance required to achieve this goal.
- The converted Lamanites were organized and united like sheaves of grain. Before the arrival of the missionaries, they were valuable children of God with great potential. But the teachings of the missionaries helped them to align themselves with God and with each other.
- After being bundled into sheaves, these Lamanites could look forward to another gathering, in which the sheaves were all gathered into garners, where they would be protected from wind and storm.
In two revelations given in 1830, the Lord used the imagery of sheaves to encourage newly called missionaries. “Thrust in your sickle with all your soul,” he said to Thomas B. Marsh, “and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Doctrine and Covenants 31:5). Shortly after, He gave the same counsel to Ezra Thayer and Northrop Sweet: “Thrust in your sickles, and reap with all your might, mind, and strength…. Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you” (Doctrine and Covenants 33:9).
President Russell M. Nelson has urged us to “thrust in [our] sickles, and reap with all [our] might, mind, and strength.” He said, “The forces of evil have never raged more forcefully than they do today. As servants of the Lord, we cannot be asleep while this battle rages” (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April 2019).
Today, I will engage in the Lord’s harvest. I will be willing to do the hard work of teaching gospel principles. I will strive to help other people become organized and unified. And I will help them gather to safety, where they can be protected from the storms of life.