In The Woods

This past Fall, our church asked for its members to respond to a need in the community, there had been a devastating flood in our area more than a year before, and a lower income area of town was having a terrible time healing on their own. We were asked to volunteer to clear some land, to help with roofing houses and to deliver firewood and other needed items to homes. My guy and I signed up to help with clearing brush and dead trees near the river.

The morning was cool and overcast, we arrived to the designated spot and found we would be working with 20-25 others. Some brought chain saws, others had come prepared with gloves and thermoses and many brought their children to help. We provided enthusiasm. Our work consisted of cutting down trees and clearing a heavily wooded area, dragging trees and brush to a specific location to be hauled away or used for firewood within the area. We were being led by a couple who lived in the community, and it was obvious that they were skeptical of our abilities.

As we started working, I noticed that my guy was really enjoying himself; he would go deep into the woods, searching for the largest downed trees and emerge from the tree line dragging them like bodies. In no time it was evident that the work he and a couple of other guys were doing was making a visible difference to the landscape. At first, I felt like I was in the way, dodging trees as they were falling, and unable to lift a lot on my own. So I did what I could, I began gathering the brush that was left behind, and there was a lot of it. Several others joined me, including most of the children. We gathered large branches that had to be dragged through the woods, as well as hundreds of smaller sticks and before long had created a huge pile of brush. And then we made another. At some point the leader couple stopped barking orders and started to invite us in to their work. When we left a few hours later, they genuinely thanked us for our help.

It occurred to me that there was no light work to be done here, every bit of it was important. And isn’t that the way it is in life? There are people who are movers and shakers, making loud declarations or large movements, and it can be easy to become discouraged when we cannot be that, but those who provide small, consistent effort make a difference too, sometimes even more so. There are planners and providers, those who invite others to come along with them, and those who can mostly only offer enthusiasm. The truth is, we need all of it to be successful.

I am trying to be content with what I have to offer, not sidelining myself with doubt or comparison, and recognizing the importance of bringing people together to work towards an effort. We should all be aware of what we bring to the table, without looking aside at what someone else has brought or questioning the value of our own provision. It’s all important.

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