One day during the recent school holidays, I received a phone call from one of our granddaughters.
‘Hello, Nanna. Can we please come over and visit you? We don’t have anything to do! We can come before or after lunch. What would be best for you?’
Now how could anyone resist a polite request like that? After our two granddaughters and our son arrived and we had finished lunch, eleven year old Amy wanted to teach me some card games—but eight year old Olivia decided she would prefer to play outside. A little while later, however, she came back in.
‘Nanna, do you have a rake? I want to rake up all those leaves and petals on the grass.’
Again, how could anyone resist a request like that? I duly found the rake but felt bad that there was Olivia, working so hard outside all by herself, putting her whole heart and soul into raking those leaves, while we sat inside, playing games and enjoying ourselves.
‘Don’t worry,’ our son told me. ‘Olivia likes doing things like that. And she likes being by herself.’
A little later, when I checked outside, there was a neat pile of leaves right in the middle of our front yard. Olivia had really applied herself, removing her jumper as she sweated away, working so hard. But she had enjoyed every minute of it, she told me. And anyone could see her pride in that neat pile of leaves she had created.
As I watched all this unfold, I found myself comparing the task Olivia had undertaken so happily with the task that had occupied me all morning before my visitors arrived—that of piling up leaves of a different kind. I had been busy editing my current non-fiction book, carefully raking through all those words and sentences and gathering them into much neater shape. How satisfying it was to watch those completed ‘leaves’ of my own mount up! Of course, I knew there would still be more cleaning up to do on this manuscript, but at least I could see something emerging now from all those hours of work I have put into it so far.
I had been happy to work on it by myself too, just as Olivia had been as she raked away. But had I been as joyful about it as she had? Her little face almost shone with delight at the change she had wrought in our yard. It was obvious she had truly enjoyed herself as she slaved away for our benefit. She even seemed to regard this task as a great privilege—to be allowed have fun while making Nanna and Granddad’s yard look so much better! Was that something I had lost sight of in my writing—that awareness of the privilege of doing something I love for God?
I wonder how you have felt lately as you try to amass those ‘leaves’ of your current writing project. It can be hard work, requiring much perseverance. But may you and I not lose that sense of privilege of serving the Lord in the unique way we have been given. And may we each continue to be filled with that same joy I saw in our granddaughter as we apply ourselves to our writing.
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com or www.soulfriend.com.au.