Our community garden is coming along quite nicely. Lots of people have been coming for cucumbers, green beans, and zucchini (or squash, I don’t know the difference.) The tomatoes will be turning red before long and they’ll be a big hit. I’m sure some people have already picked some green ones. There are watermelon, peppers, cushaw (melon like pumpkin for Donna Fowler’s pies), potatoes, and sweet potatoes, none of which are ready yet.
From what I understand, a couple of people were pulling up potatoes, seeing that they were not ready, tossing them aside, and pulling up more, thereby ruining them. There’s a risk you run with opening something like a garden up to people who have nothing invested in it. There will be some who don’t care what they trample on, what they pull up, and/or what they otherwise ruin. It’s even possible, if not probable, that someone saw someone carrying bags full of tomatoes out of the garden last year to sell for drug money.
It’s the same when those from “the world” come into the church. They may spill drinks on the carpet, their kids may write on the hymnals, and they might just plug up the toilets with paper towels. They may come to the dinners we have each Wednesday evening and throw plates full of food away. They may come and eat, and take loads of food with them when they leave and not even stay for the devotion that follows the meal. It’s even possible they would take money from a missions fund jar.
We deal with the same thing at the food pantry. People coming to the pantry, getting free food, and complaining about what they’re getting. And that can make us madder than…………. never mind. I believe nearly all of us can become upset if the right buttons are pushed. And believe me, satan knows what buttons to push for each of us.
I struggle with the same things you all struggle with. Regarding today’s blog, I can tell you the same people come to my house over and over again, often waking me from a nice afternoon nap, asking for gas, food, and their utility bills to be paid.
This is a tough blog folks (today and always), and it’s not a blog for those who would rather not be confronted. I use this blog to try to teach about Jesus and His teachings through stories and examples we experience. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is confrontational. What we must keep ourselves from doing is not to say, “I paid for that hymnal they’re writing in”; “I paid for that carpet they are letting their 4 year old carry red kool-aid on in the fellowship hall.” We have to find a way, in the midst of their indifference to what we value, to show grace. And when we fail to show grace, we must be shown grace ourselves.
I believe we are permitted to help the 4 year old carry the kool-aid. We are allowed to lovingly explain why we don’t write in the hymnals, and instead provide them with books and papers they are allowed to write on. It is perfectly acceptable to put up signs telling them the potatoes are not ready. My conscience is OK when I say to the person at my door once again, “We have a limited amount of money available and we can only get you gas once every 6 months.”
Through it all, we must pray for patience and pray that God shows us patience when we fail. We can and should use all those times as opportunities to grow closer to Jesus, remembering how many times we’ve abused His mercy and grace.
And once in a while, we just need to go off by ourselves and shout, “Lord, give me strength!”