a steward of inconvenience…

My neighbor taught me a lesson a few days ago. A lesson about what it means to be a steward of inconvenience.
I call him neighbor, but the truth is I don’t even know his name. He lives down the road and around the corner from my home. I only see him in passing while I’m out walking; he’s a lawn person. You know the kind… those folks who live for the lush and green and blossom of summertime. Those who aren’t afraid to get on their knees and tend to the parcel of land beneath their feet. Those whose water bills double during summertime because of their love for landscaping. Those who potentially get annoyed when any one thing creeps in to wreak havoc upon their hard work.
Yep, he seems to be one of them; accordingly, I felt that he might be irritated by the presence of city water trucks last weekend. Several workers showed up on his front lawn to dig up, tear up, and fix up a broken water line that ran from the middle of the street onto his property. I made a few laps in their direction, noting the consternation on the face of my neighbor and his wife. They kept close watch on those workers, even more so on the lawn that was being dismantled; not a large parcel of land but just enough to inconvenience them both. I quietly regarded the scene, packed it away and didn’t give it much thought until I passed by again a few days later.
The scene was much different this go around. No more workers; no more holes in the ground; no more digging and no more corporate mess. Just a man, his hose, a loosely tilled piece of earth, and a patched, gravel spot where the asphalt had previously known fracture. I paused from my walking and commented to this unnamed neighbor about the condition of his lawn.
“Looks like they really messed up your lawn; I know how much work you put into it. Sure hope they found what they were looking for; sure hope it didn’t cost you much.”
His response?
“Just a little water line break and, no, it didn’t cost me a dime. Just a little patch of ground.”
A smile broke across his face, and then one broke across my heart. As I pushed on past his little patch of ground, I thought long and hard about what he had said; his gracious response wasn’t what I had expected. I anticipated his annoyance. Instead, he spoke his peace. In a few simple moments, he taught me something about what it is to be good steward of earthly inconveniences.
I get the feeling he understands something about the earth… about ultimate ownership and his temporary rights therein. About what it is to tend to earth’s parameters—the ones marked out for him by life’s trajectory; the ones that have become his responsibility for the earthly tenure granted him. And while his great love for his lawn is obvious to all passer-byers, what is greater is his perspective regarding the inconveniences that sometimes mediate their witness into the soil beneath his feet.
Rather than complaining, throwing a fit, and being annoyed by the freshly dug-up “brown” amidst the lush and green of a season’s hard work, my neighbor took it all in stride; took a hose in hand, and hovered over that little patch of ground. He bent to his inconvenience, bowed low and served the soil by watering it with his careful and willing stewardship.
I wonder how many of us could say the same… could live the same. Could see life and all its inconveniences with a similar posture of heart. A perspective that continually looks on the bright side of bothers—the right side—and that says…
This life is not my own; it was bought at a price, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Just a little patch of ground here and there. Just a little bit of soil that really doesn’t belong to me in the first place. Just a little bit of time; a little bit of water; a little bit of tending and bending to make sure that any temporary loss is replaced by eternal perspective, eternal growth. Eternal harvest that leaves our little patches of unearthed “brown” healthier, more vital, more vibrant, and more mature because of the tilling that’s taken place within.
What would it take for us to get there, friends? What if we looked at all of life and the little patch of ground entrusted to our care as the greatest, most precious holding of our hearts? What if, instead of collapsing with every uprooting that takes place in our lives, we just grabbed a hose, stooped low, and simply offered our hearts and hands to the re-growth therein? What if we could live there instead of staying mired in our annoyances? What if we simply consigned our gratefulness to the witness and grace of each new day we’re given, regardless of the intrusions that present themselves?
What if we could be a steward of inconvenience? A willing giver in the midst of taking. A joyful tender of disruption. A gracious gardener despite uprooting.
Indeed, a lesson given to me by an unnamed neighbor. I am thankful for its arrival—a small understanding applied to a great big life that just might make a huge impact for the kingdom of God.
Just a little patch of ground for Jesus. Beneath my feet; beneath yours.
Even so, my good, kind friends, keep to it. As always…
Peace for the journey,

PS: My friend, Cindy, is a good steward of her camera. I’ve ordered and used several of her cards that contain some of her photographs. I’d like to gift two of you with a set; if you’d like to be included in the give-away, visit Cindy and tell me which photograph you’d like. Shalom.

40 Responses to a steward of inconvenience…

  1. I absolutely love this!! What I see life's inconvenience's costing me are just a little patch of ground, money, time which didn't belong to me in the first place.

    Great lesson. Great perspective. I would be wise to heed your neighbor's wisdom.

  2. What a great lesson. His example of stewardship is a perfect example…such wisdom in his words and peaceful joy in his heart. Thank you!

  3. Hmmm, I fear that I have been guilty of fretting over my 'little patch of ground' way too much. Not that I'm a yard/garden person, but my little patch of ground may look like my exercise routine or my eating habits or my whatever it is that I take joy/pride in. There's definitely a lesson to be had here.

  4. I sometimes worry over my little patch of ground too much as well. This post spoke to what God has been showing me in my life these days.

    Thanks for the mention of my cards. Looking forward to seeing which one the winner wants!

  5. I love the new purple ones you sent, Cindy. Just love them. Also, I think the strawberries will be a hit! I'm at my mom and dad's in Garner (on Scotty watch, AI), and mom has us well supplied with shortcake for the evening watch!

  6. Oh, I would so very much like to be more like this man! Not demanding my "rights" but being glad for what I have been freely given!

    Honestly, God has gifted you so greatly in the area of writing. Sometimes I wonder how these exquisitly (sp?) words and thoughts keep pouring out of your mind and pen. It has to be God! Thanks for letting Him use you over and over and over again!


  7. Love the cards…so hard to pick but I like scripture 6. One of my favorite choir anthems to sing is "The Father will Dance over You with Joy " and this card reminds me that God is singing over me.


  8. What a great way to think of dealing with inconveniences — a steward of them. I have trouble in this area and need to work on this!

    On the photos, I think I like the white tulips 2 — though they are all gorgeous!

  9. What a grace filled post, Elaine.

    The neighbor's response was so beautiful, and you were so gracious to honor him with a blog post.

    Yes, it is indeed a beautiful response to a small inconvenience. It revealed the kind of heart he had.

    Thanks for sharing the story with us.

    I went over to Cindy's blog – and my choice is Carnations #1. In case my name is chosen, I have a US address that the card can be mailed to.

    Bless your heart, dear Elaine.


  10. Ah Elaine, a patch of ground has been disturbed in my life and how I pray I will respond with acceptance. No complaining, blaming or accusing. It has been allowed for a reason. I pray the new "grass" that is seeded will be a beautiful testimony of God's provision and resurrection of life.

    Always so encouraging to visit here. No other consistantly and faithfully calls my focus to truth. I love you friend, so very much.

    Letting His healing rain wash over my parched patch of earth,

  11. I just visited Cindy's site. The cards are exquisite. Hard to choose one favorite. I find all the tulip cards, all the teacup cards, the daisy cards, scripture cards and Lily-of-the-valley cards my favorite. Impossible to decide on just one. If I was to win you'd have to surprise me. 🙂

    Thanks for encouraging Cindy by doing this. You are so kind. Hugs.

  12. I must say I was all prepared to read where your neighbor's comment would have been less than pleasant….and was surprised in how he responded!!

    But, it did give me food for thought – thank you for sharing this!


  13. I love this! It pierced me in the heart Elaine! I so often am frustrated by inconvenience yet I need to tend what has been given me.

  14. God has blessed me with my own little patch of land, one that I cherish and hold dear. From the beginning, James and realized we had been granted squatters rights, stewardship of His land. God has also established Himself in me, and I am steward of His grace, praying each day that I become more pleasing in His sight. Nothing about my relationship with the Lord is inconvenient, but the greatest, most humbling honor I will ever have.


  15. wifeforthejourney:

    As your post makes clear, we often do not do well with inconvenience – even the minor ones tempt us to major complaining. The Christ-like attitude that comes with being "stewards" of incovenience is a good word for us all.

    Thank you for your own example of Christian stewardship, both in blogland and at home!


  16. Wow! I love how God has used your words to reveal to others about inconvenience's, and sacrificing for others. Recent events in the life of my family has been pulling at my heart strings over these same things. I love Billy's words of being "stewards of inconvenience is a good word for all." I pray that some people will be humbled by this. Great lessons to be learned of this perspective. Thank you!

  17. An impressive lesson, indeed…and one I was in need of definitely…

    "A joyful tender of disruption. "…eeek…I fail at this way too often…

    Thank you for sharing this message…and although all of Cindy's photos are lovely…I am partial to lily of the valley….

  18. I enjoy your writing. It means even more to me because you've shared your faith and courage during stress. Your example is genuine and inspirational. And I pray for you often. ~donkimrey

    P.S. I believe I asked if you know a cousin of mine, who's also a Methodist Minister with two charges. Her husband is supervisor, I believe, of one of the Methodist camps in N.C. Penny Dollar is her maiden name.

  19. What a wonderful lesson and perspective you gained from that Elaine, and one we could all stand to pray on more often.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Have a Blessed Weekend!

  20. I learned a long time ago that the quicker I find my way to acceptance, the quicker my sense of peace is rooted. My sister says it's the having of faith in the good and the not-so-good elements of life.

    Great post!

  21. Psalm 84:5 says, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." Sounds like your neighbor has a pilgrim heart–may we all imitate him!

  22. What a great attitude your neighbour has…I could use some of the same.
    I love the picture at the top….'watering' has been on my mind as I work on Justin's script…trying to use 'pictures' to weave a thought through the story.

  23. As always I come away from reading your blog with a good reminder and great lesson! Hope you are doing well. It has been so long since I've read or posted anything. I've really missed reading your blog. They are always a blessing. I look forward to reading more!

  24. Can't tell you again how much this touched me tonight. What a wonderful prospective and lesson. How I long to have an attitude such as this. I will just keep on working on it.

    Aren't Cindy's cards wonderful? I love them too. Such a neat woman. Hope you have a great week-end! HUGS

  25. "What if we could be a steward of inconvenience? A willing giver in the midst of taking. A joyful tender of disruption. A gracious gardener despite uprooting."

    Powerful words for me this morning. Thanks.

    Believing Him~Pamela

  26. Great perspective…love it! Gave me a lot to think about as I go through my day today. Thanks!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  27. this was so amazing Elaine – but then all of your writings are!

    good lesson for us all in this.

  28. Love your post.

    It seems to be forever since I have been able to get on blogs and read and post. I have missed yours.

    Love you my sister,

  29. I am always blessed by the depth you get into a life lesson. Here again, 'a steward of inconvenience'… I will learn from both you and the neighbor this morning!


  30. What a beautiful post! Perhaps, it was the Lords directon that you were observant to your surroundings?? Thanks for the gentle reminder:) Love the Strawberry2 and Scripture 4? (The one with the lily of the valley)So hard to narrow down as they are all beautiful!
    Happy Weekend!

  31. Wonderful message! It makes me wonder why we spend so much time and energy trying to hold tightly onto things that just on loan by God for the time?

  32. "a willing giver in the midst of taking…" absolutely put a smile on my heart today. Thank you dear one..;j

  33. Amen!

    Very penetrating message in many ways!

    Thank you for sharing with us Elaine.

    Praying for you often.

    Blessings and peace!

  34. Hi there! Just wanted to make sure that you received my emails. Haven't heard back from you, so I'm concerned that the emails haven't gone through.

    Prayers and blessings sweet friend,

  35. I was so blessed by reading this. I loved the story, and I loved the almost poetic way you told it. What a lesson to be learned in a little patch of ground. Isn't it just so true how often we forget to be mindful of the small – yet all so important – things in our lives.

    I'm joining my hands with the Master Gardener – thanking Him for my little patch of ground – and asking Him to guide me as I till and tend it, watch and water it. I'm asking Him for the grace to grow…


  36. As always, Elaine, you brighten my day as you share your unique way of beautifully capturing life. Thank you for that and have a wonderful day.
    Blessings to you,

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