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Chaplain (COL) Larry Jones, of the North Carolina National Guard, tells the story of his father, who had been raised on a farm in Talladega County, Alabama. Circumstances forced his dad to move from the farm into a crowded urban area in Birmingham.   

But, as the proverb goes, “you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” His father forever yearned to get his hands in the dirt again and work the soil. He continued to look for opportunities to raise garden plants.   

One evening, many years later, Chaplain Jones pulled up to his dad’s home on a visit to his folks. As his headlights swept across his father’s tiny yard, he noticed a few tomato plants growing in separate spots on the ground. Chaplain Jones thought, “Dad’s a farmer. How come his plants are scattered here and there and not gathered and organized in a garden?” His mother met him at the door and he questioned her about the scattered plantings – one in the middle of the yard, another in the corner, a third against the house. “You’ll find out tomorrow at midday,” she answered.   

The next day, when the sun was overhead, Chaplain Jones got his answer. The surrounding buildings and trees of the city blocked the sun completely from his dad’s yard – except in those few places where the tomatoes were planted. His father was merely making the most of the limited sunlight that pierced through that urban jungle onto his yard, putting the plants in those few places where they could get light.   

I have felt like that “old farmer” at times. I’ve yearned to do the very things for which God’s gifted me – especially the work of a pastor.  But ever-growing responsibilities in the Army crowd out opportunities to do those more desirable activities of the Lord. So, what should my response be? Let those desires die and grow in frustration and resentment? Or, find and make the most of opportunities – however small and sporadic – to use His spiritual gifts to serve and bless others? 

Like Chaplain Jones’ father, who searched for the sunlight and used it to the max, I will look for opportunities to do what isn’t being done, no matter how small the task may be. And I’ll do them with all my heart and seek to be a blessing to others. As the Scripture says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10), and “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). 


PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven, unworthy and unfit as I may be I offer myself to You. Please cleanse me. Please save me. Please transform me and fashion me into the image of Your Son. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and use me however and wherever You desire. Guide me to opportunities of service for Your people and Your glory. Amen. 


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