Jesus came as the sower of seed and believers today continue to sow the seeds of the Word of God. Some will hear and be distracted by Satan; some will hear and not get sufficient continued teaching and will fall away; some will hear and be more concerned with material things of this world and therefore not take root. Still, there will be a huge harvest.
The church basement gameroom was filled with the sounds of racing vehicles and the flipping of switches on game controllers. The ping pong table, the pool table, and the comfortable couches were silent and lonely. Only Josh and his college friend Brandon occupied the room, completely absorbed by a video game flickering in vivid colors on the large television screen in front of them. Both were sitting in swiveling office chairs twisting and turning as they made their way through an imaginary world that had them chasing each other through city streets in sleek sports cars. They were both deep inside the game world, completely disconnected from the cavernous solitude behind them. There was no distraction that could wrench them from their playground.
Emily stepped into the gameroom fully expecting Josh and Brandon to welcome her with inquisitive minds about the project she was there to discuss. “Josh,” she called out across the room. “It’s been fifteen minutes and you said you’d be done in five.”
As far as Josh and Brandon were concerned, the sound waves from Emily’s voice sank into the carpet and were therefore undetected. Josh was leaning to the right on the edge of his seat, while Brandon leaned to the left. The sports cars on the large video screen in front of them were weaving in and out of traffic, driving on the sidewalk, and racing side-by-side down the freeway.
“I’ve got something important to discuss with you guys,” Emily announced.
Nothing but screeching tires and racing engines.
Emily took a few steps closer to make certain she could be heard just as Josh’s car crashed head-on into a semi-truck. There was a loud explosion followed with an enormous fireball. All the excitement invested in the game deflated.
“Josh?” Emily called out.
Disconnected from the game, Josh left his game controller on the floor and spun around in his seat to make eye contact with Emily. “Hi Emily,” he said as Brandon hit the remote turning the video screen black.
The room went silent for a moment.
“When did you come in?” Josh asked Emily.
“About ten minutes ago.” Emily answered with a hint of impatience.
A bell went off in Josh’s head. “Oh yeah! Didn’t you have something you wanted to talk about?” he said.
“Yes I did.” Emily said.
Brandon, who was a near-clone to Josh, left his game controller on the floor and spun around to give Emily his attention.
Emily now had complete control.
“If you guys aren’t busy this weekend, I have two friends who could really use your help,” she said.
Brandon was quick with a response. “We were planning a trip to the beach,” he said.
Josh, who is always ready to help, was open to a change if needed. “That’s a tentative plan,” he offered.
“Okay, then consider this. My friends Stacy and Mark just bought their first house and it’s a real fixer-upper. They need some help getting it painted before they can move in.”
“Have they considered hiring a painter?” Josh offered without thinking.
“No. They don’t have the money for that,” Emily said.
“Then why don’t we help them?” Josh suggested.
Emily smiled. “I think your brain has finally left the game world and rejoined reality,” she said.
Stacy and Mark’s house was an older home that was well-built and would be something special with a coat of fresh paint. The living room had well maintained hardwood floors and crown molding that accented the window and door trim. The building was completely empty giving the crew of amateur painters plenty of room to work. Emily was busy spreading tarps to protect the hardwood floor. Brandon was on a ladder sanding the crown molding where the old paint had started to peel. Josh was applying blue painter’s tape around the windows. Stacy, who was a few years older than the rest of the group, was on her cellphone finishing a conversation. Ending the call, she made an announcement to the work crew.
“That was Mark,” Stacy called out. “He just left the paint store and should be here in a few minutes.”
Hearing Mark’s name triggered a thought in Emily’s head. “Is Mark still on the fence about going to church?” she asked Stacy.
“He is,” she admitted. “Some days he has a real interest in moving closer to God and other days he’s so distracted by his work that he just doesn’t care.”
Overhearing the conversation, Brandon looked down from his ladder and provided some sage advice. “Once the seeds are planted, you just have to make sure they get adequate water and sunshine,” he offered.
“What?” Emily asked.
“Water and sunshine. That’s what Mark needs,” Brandon concluded.
Both Stacy and Emily acknowledged Brandon’s wisdom with a smile and nod of their head.
“We’ll spread some sunshine on these walls today,” Brandon continued as he descended from his ladder next to Josh.
“Right,” Josh acknowledged, “but we’re going to need the water to clean the brushes.”
Brandon gave Josh a playful shove in response to his silly joke and the preparation work continued until Mark arrived a few minutes later with painting trays, rollers, brushes, and paint.
“Before we get started…” Mark announced to the group. “I just want to say thank you once again. Your help means a lot to me!”
“There’s nothing we’d rather do today,” Emily responded, confirmed by the smiles on the faces of Josh and Brandon.
Working like a well-oiled machine, the crew of five rolled the paint onto the walls, brushed the paint onto the trim, and turned a drab, lifeless shell into a sparkling home for Stacy and Mark. As the painter’s tape was being removed by Stacy, Brandon helped Emily fold the drop cloths, while Josh and Mark stood at the kitchen sink cleaning paint brushes.
“You play basketball, Mark? Josh asked.
“Not lately, but I used too,” Mark said.
“You should come out and play with us on Monday night. We play from about eight to ten.”
“Where do you play?”
“At church,” Josh said. “That place you’re trying to avoid.”
Mark was comfortable with Josh’s light-hearted jab and seemed sincerely introspective. “I’m not trying to avoid church,” he said. “I just end up working most weekends.”
“Do you work on Monday nights?” Josh asked.
“So come out and play with us. It’s always fun.”
“I could use a little fun,” Mark conceded.
Emily stepped in from behind Josh and Mark to check on their progress and see if she could help. “How are you guys doing on those brushes?” she asked.
“The brushes are done,” Josh said. “And I got some water on Mark also. I think he’s starting to grow.”
Mark smiled at Josh, not certain what he was talking about, but pleased by the concern for his well-being. As they stepped away from the sink, Stacy began working her way through the room with hugs for everybody.
“You guys have made our new house look beautiful,” Stacy announced to the group.
“Now if we only had some furniture,” Mark said.
“That would be a nice touch,” Emily agreed.
“I’ll bet there’s a ton of people at church who have furniture they’re not using,” Brandon suggested. “We’ll spread the word and see what turns up.”
Now that the work was done, Josh turned his attention to his previous plans. “What’s that I hear?” Josh announced, as he held is hand cupped to his ear. “I believe the beach is calling my name.”
Emily laughed and said good bye to Josh and Brandon before spending some time with Stacy and Mark basking in the sunshine of a job well done.