I don’t know my neighbors as well as I should, but I have pieced together my own perception of who they are and what they are about from the swatches of time they spend in their front yard and at the neighborhood park. I am probably wrong most of the time, but I hope I’m not in the case of one young man who seems to be totally smitten with his three young sons.
From the time they were babies, he has spent a lot of quality time with them without his wife present. On most nice evenings, you will find him taking the three boys for a walk around the pond, the youngest in the stroller; playing catch in the front yard, ball caps, leather gloves, and all; or in the front yard doing yard work. This is my personal favorite because the boys look so proud of themselves, carrying around plastic garden tools and wiping the sweat from their brows. They don’t seem to understand that most people consider what they are doing to be work.
Last week, on my way home from the store, I witnessed something so precious that I slowed down to take it in. (Do not attempt this unless you know the difference between Sunday driver speed and creepy stalker speed. Leave this type of thing to us professionals.) Dad of the Year and his oldest protégé had just finished mowing. Well, Dad had, anyway. Heavy yellow mower already parked in the garage, he stood at the edge of his deep front porch admiring the diagonal lines he’d made, the ones that transformed his lawn into a textured carpet of emerald green.
The man’s oldest stood next to him, his tiny head barely reaching the waistband of his daddy’s shorts.His face glowed with pride and effort, and his T-shirt boasted sweat stains any man would be proud of. His own yellow mower, smaller and made of plastic, was parked a few feet away on the sidewalk, a red bandana like his daddy’s tied to the cross bar. Just as the SUV in their driveway began to eclipse my view of the tender scene, the two shared a smile and turned toward the house.
I thought about it all the way home.
I imagined the little boy pushing the lightweight mower up and down the diagonal rows of grass, digging into tender turf with the hard plastic edge. I saw him working hard, tongue out, sure that he was accomplishing much, convinced that his daddy needed him, that his daddy was lucky to have his help.I imagined his daddy, too, doing the real work, taking the lead, clearing the path. I saw him looking over his shoulder with a smile from time to time, pride welling deep in his chest over the son that wanted so badly to be about his daddy’s work.
It’s easy for those of us whom God has called to ministry—and that’s all of us, by the way, as the call to follow Christ is at once a call to salvation and ministry—to forget who brings the harvest. We see souls saved and lives changed and feel the ache of effort in our own bones. Convinced that we have accomplished much, we admire what God has done and congratulate ourselves. Come on, most of us can’t even make people laugh when we want to.And we think we can inspire hearts to bow?
No, God alone is Lord of the Harvest. He made the Way, He bows hearts, and He redeems. He doesn’t need our help, but He delights in our devotion. So, carry on.Be about the Father’s work. Follow Him, obey Him, find contentment in His presence, and you will accomplish something big. You, cherished child, will bring your Father joy.