The Lesson Of The Palm Berries

Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Nearer My God To Thee"1 (Lyrics)

Colossians 3:23-24 – Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (NLT)

Our first American SOWER (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready) project was at Gospel Rescue Mission, in Tucson, Arizona, USA, which is a shelter for women, some with children. My husband and I had just retired from teaching. We hadn't yet reset our thinking or fully understood about being servants, and we wondered what great work we would now be doing for the kingdom of God. On the first work day, Terry and another fellow SOWER received their assignment: sifting out thousands of little palm berries that had fallen onto the sand in the children's play area. With only shovels, a wheelbarrow, and a wire screen, they tackled the job. By the end of the day, their muscles were sore, and they had cleared only about a third of the area.

On day two, the other guys told what they had been doing. Resealing a flat roof with rubberized reflective paint sounded much more interesting, much more beneficial to the Mission. The two guys on berry duty continued in their slave labour. Terry wrestled with God in his thoughts. Why am I doing this dumb task? Surely You have something much more important for me to do!

There was no reply.

The men pushed on in the hot sun.

I would feel much more productive if this job were easier, or more fun!

By the end of the second back-breaking day, the boring, make-work-for-nothing task was done. Terry was in full rebellion. Are you satisfied, Lord? I'd like a more significant task next time, thanks!

The next day, the Lord graciously showed him the big picture. A young mother timidly approached him asking, "Are you the one who cleaned out the play area? My daughter is highly allergic to bees. She couldn't play in the sand because the sticky berries attracted so many bees. Now she can. My daughter thanks you from the bottom of her heart!"

Okay, Lord, now I get it. Terry's proud attitude turned to one of humility. Now, when he explains to others what SOWERs is all about, he says, "We do whatever job we are asked to do."

God had a purpose and a plan for Terry in this new area of our lives, showing him how he needed to change his perspective. Terry wasn't really working for the staff who had assigned the task, but for the Lord. Terry learned to be content in his work and to let go of his resentment.

How does one work willingly from the heart? Realize that it is the Lord Whom we are serving, not merely people. It's not what we do, but for Whom we do it. We're not working for self-centred reasons, or to impress others. One job is not more important than another. Even menial tasks are dignified when we do them with God as our boss.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the realization that we work for You as our boss, rather than for people. Help us to work willingly, doing whatever You require of us, no matter how insignificant it might seem, to further Your kingdom. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Alice Burnett <>
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.

    Thanks, Alice, for the beautiful story and application.

    A great way to look at it, Alice. Thanks and blessings!

    Memorable story, Alice. Thanks for sharing your faith in it.

    Excellent testimony, Alice, thanks. A good lesson for all of us.

    Thank you, Alice. That was a great lesson from the palm berries.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging and timely devotional reminder.

    Thank you, Alice, for this excellent devotion.
    I love it very much.

    Amen Alice. An extremely important truth for us to remember and apply each and every day!

    Boy was that ever well-written!!!
    The point was clear in a beautiful way in the Lord!
    Thank you so much, don’t quit!

    Hi there,
    Your message could not have come at a better time. I just want to thank you for the reminder that we are doing HIS work.
    Thanks you.

    Thank you, Alice, for another of your special and very mindful writings. Quite a task that Terry took on and the Lord certainly knew what to put in front of him in order to realize what tasks are necessary in life. Wonderful that he persisted in the Lord’s work. Blessings for the writings you do for the devotionals.

    Good morning, Alice
    I love the Bible verse you cited at the beginning of your devotional. I am one of the fortunate people who always loved my work. When I was a young lad, I worked in a hardwood flooring factory, and I did not even mind that. Since I refocused, I do all kinds of things to occupy my time every morning. I do the books for our daughter’s business. I hate the saying TGIF. I was and am still looking forward to Monday morning.
    Thank you for your good words.

    Morning Alice,
    Today’s devotional was “just right” for me. And shame on me, I never did ask how you got involved in Sowers. Tell Terry the story and his attitude represent a lot of us who wonder why we do what we do for the Lord.
    IT IS VERY HOT in Texas but the most depressing and concerning thing is our lack of rain…we are dry, dry, dry. It affects our ranch and many say, “This weather is depressing.” So, we are praying for rain.
    Hope all is well with you and Terry.

    Good Morning Alice,
    Great reminder of why we do God’s work. I love your description of the task and the feelings of your hubby. I also have sifted stones out of sand and not in the hot sun of Tucson, so I can relate a little to Terry’s work.
    God is amazing that Terry got his answer, and he could see the value of his work. Sometimes we have to understand that what we do is for Jesus, and we know we are to be servants in all ways without any apparent rewards.
    I guess he was also lucky that the bees didn’t come and sting him.
    It is wonderful that you and Terry are faith buddies along your life’s journey. Thanks for sharing your many experiences and relating them to your faith. Blessings.

    Dear Alice,
    What peace fills our lives as we develop the idea that we are living our lives for and doing our work for the Lord. See the blessings in your day and thanks for writing.

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