There is a story told of a young boy who was picking blueberries with his family; everyone had their own pail to fill up on a beautiful summer day. Like many young boys his age, he quickly became distracted and passed the time running through the field, chasing squirrels, nibbling on blueberries, and napping in the shade. He was doing everything but filling his bucket.
Before he knew it, he heard his mom and dad yell it was time to leave. The young boy panicked. He didn’t want to return with just a small handful of blueberries jostling around at the bottom of his bucket. So he quickly took some dirt and moss and filled up his small pail putting a thin layer of blueberries along the top making it look like he had been working the whole day.
The next morning he awoke to the sweet smell of blueberry pie. He couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into that first delicious piece. He raced downstairs to see his mom place a small freshly baked pie on the dining room table, and she lovingly told her son that she made this pie just for him. The young boy took the knife, and as he pushed through that top layer of blueberries, he soon realized the rest of the pie was just a clump of dirt and moss. The boy’s smile faded; he didn’t have to look at his mom to know he was probably not going to get any blueberry pie that morning.
Sadly, I can relate to this young boy. No, I didn’t go blueberry picking with my family as a kid. (I don’t even like blueberry pie.) But many times in my personal and professional life I have anticipated blessings or rewards, almost expected them, even though I knew my effort/work was lacking. Bless my children, Lord … as I selfishly neglect the quality time they need from their dad. Bless my marriage, Lord … as I refuse to forgive my spouse as Christ has forgiven me. Bless my work, Lord… as I find an excuse to stay in my office instead of building relationships with those He has called me to serve. Too many times I have looked to the Good Lord with my hands wide open waiting for His gifts to be poured out, knowing in my heart I haven’t done much at all over the last few days, weeks, or months in order to fully receive those gifts.
God commands our ministries here in the Michigan District to stand on His promises and be bold in sharing the Gospel message. Paul reminds us in his second letter to the Corinthians that healthy ministries are sowing generously and giving cheerfully, trusting in God who “is able to bless [them] abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that [they] need, [they] will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV).
So does God still bless us despite our sinful ways? For sure! There is no doubt that He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). Despite my sinful nature and not always listening to His will for my life, God has blessed me tremendously and has used me to be a blessing. We all learned in Sunday school about mercy—the things God doesn’t give us that we do deserve and grace—the things God does give us that we don’t deserve. Praise God for His mercy and grace!
I know I forget this at times, and I believe our congregations and schools can forget as well. We desire all the promises God shares with us in His Word; however, our actions aren’t always a reflection of what Christ has called His church to do.
Yet, God never abandons us, and still accomplishes everything, sometimes even in spite of us. This article began with a startling illustration, one that is thankfully not real. Our help in every part of our work and service to the Lord and his Church is always found in our Heavenly Father, and it is always available when we ask! As Christ said, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9–13 ESV). May the Holy Spirit work through us in mighty ways as God’s love flows to us and through us. May He also give us those gentle reminders that there are plenty of buckets that need blueberries!