A few weeks ago, a friend was telling me of a young man who he knew who was shot during an argument that started by someone taking his usual seat at a restaurant.
We humans are a territorial lot. We tend to sit in the same area at church, even getting irritated if another family starts sitting there before we get to the place that we consider as our designated spot.
My husband even used to take attendance, so to speak, while he was preaching, because he became accustomed to the places to look for certain members, and he noted when they were not there, so he could follow up later.
Like many families, each family member has his or her own place at the dinner table or in the family room as they enjoy a movie together.
We are creatures of habit, and tend to be a little put out when someone disrupts that, or moves into our territory.
It was with that same sense of irritation that I came to one of my favorite sitting spots in my garden, and found it occupied by a large outgrowth of Hyacinth Bean plant. It was meant to be a pretty backdrop for this seating area, and I don’t recall giving it permission to just take over the seat!
Now, I love my plants; although not as much as you should love that church family that “stole your spot” on your selected pew. But let’s face it, the plant had stepped out of line and made my morning plans change because of its wayward growth. I could not sit in my garden in direct view of the hummingbird feeder, nor away from the hot morning sun.
This particular plant, “Lablab Purpureus,” starts its growth slowly but really takes off in the heat of summer, just when we are all indoors enjoying the air conditioning. It probably was an unwise choice to put it on the flimsy trellis behind the bench, but that did not prevent me from having angry thoughts towards the plant.
Remember Mordecai’s words to Esther, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NASB). She was put into a spot she did not choose, to do a great work.
Sometimes we think we have the job, the position, the right family size, or the location that we want, but then life happens.
This vine looks lovely where it is. I did arrange the branches a little, but the plant was too beautiful to cut down just because it took my sitting spot.
When our lives begin to take a direction that we don’t anticipate, there is usually some good in it.
The same is true in our work for God. We get comfy where we are. If someone else comes in and begins to do the job we were doing, that can give us a sense of irritation and prevent us from seeing the good that they are doing.
Paul reminded us that some “preach Christ for envy or rivalry” (Philippians 1:15-17), but that, in any case, “Christ is proclaimed.”
If others are doing the work we thought was ours, let’s not feel like they stole our spot. How much better it is to be happy that we have good fellow workers. We then can go find another great place to fill, one where we may be more needed!
By the way, I did have another bench close by. And the view was lovely.