My older brother and I made several week-long hiking trips in Mr. Rainier National Park as teenagers. While our folks did support us some, we were required to come up with some of the financing, especially for the dehydrated foods we were to carry and the fuel for our camp stoves.
Now, neither of us boys had steady jobs. Well, OK. Neither of us had jobs. We did receive a modest allowance which did meet our real needs. We did the lawn and washed the dishes, but that was expected of us, and we weren’t paid for these chores. That was our contribution to the family. So, to get money for our real wants, we had to come up with another plan.
One of our parents suggested that we join the dozens of other teenagers that worked as day-laborers in the bean and berry fields outside the greater Seattle area. With some reluctance, my brother and I agreed to give it a try.
The “hiring” area was down in the warehouse/railroad yard region of south Seattle. I don’t recall exactly where. But it was still dark when two boys with sack lunches were dropped off with the admonition to call home for a ride when we got back. We were slated to get on a bus, take the ferry over to Vashon Island, out in the middle of Puget Sound to pick something. As I recall, it was green beans.
I don’t know which of us made the suggestion. But bean picking didn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. There were lots of things in Seattle that the two of us had always enjoyed seeing and experiencing. Up on the waterfront was Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, near the main ferry terminal. It was filled with all sorts of wonders to gaze at (and buy, if one had a need)—a mummy of an Alaskan gold-rusher, mammoth tusks, real shrunken heads,—WOW! Then there were several Army Surplus Stores over on Fourth Avenue that we frequented, supplying ourselves with leftovers from both WWII and the Korean conflict. But they wouldn’t open for several hours.
More in the direction of home (sort of, in that it didn’t actually take us much too farther away) was a large cold-storage company where folks could rent cubicles in which to store frozen items (hunting and major fishing was still quite big in the Northwest then, and home freezers weren’t really common). But the neat thing was that the facility had a large collection of frozen fish for viewing. For free! We decided we could walk from where we were to where the fish were and be there about the time they would open up. So much for picking beans or berries.
We eventually headed for home, thinking to walk all the way. Of course, we’d misjudged the distance, and our trip to see the fish had removed us from the direct line to home. Thank goodness we’d thoughtfully brought our lunches! Our route toward home took us from the middle of the light industrial zone of south Seattle, westward across the Spokane Street bridge over the Duwamish River, into West Seattle, and then southward to White Center. It was mid-afternoon when we finally called from there, still about six miles from home.
The whole experience reminds me of a story in the scriptures. Seems a father had two sons who he asked to go work in the fields. One said, OK, I’ll go, but didn’t. The other said, No, but went. On that day many years ago, my brother and I were like the one who said he’d go. But other interests got in our way. We were well intentioned when we left home that morning. Our interest waned, and we ended up more tired after a day of avoiding the work than we would have been had we gone out and picked beans. It takes a lot of effort to avoid doing work, sometimes.
It also takes effort to avoid doing His work. It isn’t hard to smile at a fearful child in a hallway. Nor is it difficult to say an encouraging word to those you meet wherever it is you meet people. If the Lord is in your heart, you’ll find Him popping out in things you say and things you do all the time.
Lord, fill my heart so I can work in your fields all the time, every day. May I avoid the temptation of going into cold storage to avoid your work. Lead my feet so they don’t walk miles out of the way to avoid what you’d have me to do. Help me to like green beans enough to go pick them in Your name.