Monday, 12 March 2018 06:10

And I Helped!

Written by  Sam Whatley
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Children can teach us a lot, especially young children. I learned something last fall by watching a landscaper and his four-year-old son. The father was unloading bales of pine straw, breaking them up, and spreading large handfuls around bushes and flowers. He quickly spread a thick layer of loose straw around all the plants, without covering them up. His son snatched a tiny handful of straw from a broken bale, dropped it close to a flower, then gleefully rushed back to get another handful. He repeated this over and over. The smile on the boy’s face and the shine in his eyes made it evident that he was proud to be helping his father with his landscaping.


The father smiled too. His son was showing his love for him by his eagerness. The father displayed his love by his patience. He knew his son was learning a skill, the value of work, and the joy of sharing in his father’s world.


Why can’t we be more like that little boy? Jesus made this point to his disciples:


“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4, NIV)


That statement seems strange to us. How different we are from children. Consider my four-year-old friend. Unlike an adult, he did not tell his dad what he thought needed to be done. He just watched and did what he saw his father doing. The boy did not provide the pine straw. He used the materials his father had brought. The tyke did not ask why the straw must be spread before the winter freezes came. He did not even have to be told to do the work. He wanted to be where his father was, doing whatever his father was doing. Why can’t we be more like that?


Sometimes we make serving God into something more complicated than it is. If we would just trust Him more and worry about things less, our work would be so much easier. But to trust Him we must know Him. We learn of Him through His written Word, through prayer, and through sharing our lives with other Christian believers.


Once we get to know God, we learn to pay attention to His leading in our lives. As we follow His lead, our service becomes a joy. When the Lord really puts a task on your heart, you can’t help but look forward to doing it. You live to do it.


But if we repeatedly take our direction from someone other than God, we tend to do things that need to be done by someone, but probably someone else. If you hate cooking, stay out of the church kitchen. If you do not relate to children, don’t get stuck trying to teach little ones. We may mean well in our service to the Lord, but if it is not a joy, it soon leads to discouragement and burnout. Jesus offers us a better path. He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30, NIV)


 The joy of working for the Lord is not in admiring what we have accomplished, but in being connected with the God of the universe in an important enterprise. How important is pine straw spreading? It saved a flower garden from the snow last winter.


The little boy did not spread much pine straw. That was not the point. He was together with his father and shared in the work.


My prayer is that we will quit asking God to help us do our work, and start asking to be part of His. He knows what we should be doing. He knows how we should go about it and has made provisions for the challenges we will face. He just wants us to find joy in joining with Him in His work.


May we work in such a way that we can one day say, “God did it all and I helped!”


**Sam Whatley’s latest book, Ponder Anew, is now available at the Frazer Bookstore located inside Frazer Memorial UMC.

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