When I think of “community service” from the paralegal perspective, my first thought is that many people agree to put in community services hours as a condition of probation to reduce their jail time or fines. So it’s kind of entertaining to me watch church members perform “community service”. Ya know, just because they truly want to serve the community. And they really do want to. Or they would not be there right?
Oh yes, on the outside I look FABULOUS if I say so myself! I arrive at the church EARLY (which never happens) with my awesome family in tow and we are wearing cute matching church t-shirts ready to go pull weeds and pick up trash. That’s awesome Saturday morning stuff! Right? Now, let’s be honest. My internal thoughts went a little more like this. If I am allowed to be completely honest – which is the only language I know – I really was not “feeling” it. It was early. And VERY HUMID. But, we have 3 boys at home and my husband and I want to raise sons that know how to work hard and serve others. Granted, I’ve never been accused of “working hard” outdoors. Now, I can sit in a leather chair in a nice air conditioned office and put in 12 hours. But I maybe – MAYBE – have a good 15 minutes of work in the heat in me before I become like a whiny toddler who REALLY needs a good long nap.
So, off from the church to a local community garden in a very low income neighborhood we go. 15 minutes late to the garden (that Starbucks line took forever!) with an iced Starbucks coffee, large ice water, and internet radio on the iPhone, we pull up with the family in our fabulous pearl Cadillac to pull weeds and tidy up the neighborhood’s community garden. The neighborhood looks freakishly familiar to the neighborhood my grandparents in Wichita Falls lived in (which my mom lived in her whole life). You know. With boarded up or tinfoil-lined windows and barbed wire over the chain link fences. Now, I honestly don’t mind pulling weeds and I don’t mind getting muddy. But inside I’m laughing out loud because we hired a landscaper to pull the weeds in our flower garden and I don’t know the difference in weeds and plants.
So anyway, I get out of the caddy and check twice to make sure its locked before heading over to the garden. I can totally do this. Yep. Like the little engine that could. Meanwhile, I’m mentally going over the rest of my days schedule and get a little excited when I realize that tonight is date night. Yep, I can totally put in a couple of hours of community service and end the night at a nice steakhouse. No sweat right? Well, except for the sweat that’s already dripping from my freshly shaven, secret deodorant wearing armpits. 15 minutes down. 1 hour 45 minutes to go.
So, what did I learn today during community service? Lots and lots of things.
First and foremost, I’m very thankful and grateful that I am a modern day American woman. I seriously don’t think I would have made it back in the early days when women worked from sun up to sun down, washing laundry by hand, carrying water to and from who knows what water source, and baking from scratch daily. Yes, thank you Jesus for allowing me to be born in the USA and in the 1970s so that I can exercise in the air conditioning while enjoy grilled chicken and broccoli purchased from the grocery store.
Secondly, I realized that I honestly (not even being sarcastic) don’t know the difference between weeds that need to be pulled and the good green parts of plants. If there is a flower or fruit or something that can be seen, I can track the green stem to the soil dirt and see that it’s part of the plant. But without the flower or fruit attached… sigh. Nope, I can’t tell at all. So, I finally verbalized to my husband that I could not tell the difference between the weeds and the plants so he put me to work bagging up the weeds he had already pulled and reminded me that the weeds are a great visual reminder of Jesus’s teachings.
Matthew 13:24-43 (NIV) The Parable of the Weeds – 24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” The Parable of the Weeds Explained – 36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear…”
Hubby finished pulling the weeds in that garden (while I was busy taking pictures for our scrapbook and talking to a little girl about the two-toned rolly polly that she found. You see, after about 20-30 minutes, the work gloves had somehow completely fallen off of my hands and I found myself taking in the scenery while holding a bottle of water and my camera phone pondering these exact thoughts in my mind). So then we ventured over to another garden. A tomato garden. And there it was. A really gross, slimy, ugly rotten tomato. And in my spirit, I knew exactly what it was. My heart BC. Ya know, before the restoration process. The tomato was a great visual representation of an ugly, rotten, broken, bitter, unsalvageable (to man) piece of fruit that had gotten separated from the vine that was so necessary to provide it with all of the nutrients necessary for life. Off of the vine just sitting there rotting. And boy was it ugly!
John 15 (NIV) The Vine and the Branches – 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples…”
Which reminded me that separated from God, we are all really like rotten tomatoes.
P.S. The rolly polly really was 2 colors!
Social media hugs guys~