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Johnny Jump-Up

Finding volunteers among children who count their years in single digits can be as slow as watching a Japanese maple grow. But wait; then they turn into teenagers. The slow response turns into no response. By then a wise mother has learned enough to stop asking for volunteers. She becomes a one-woman draft board, who assigns a task as if it were a non-negotiable mission!

I have never seen a church that had a waiting list of willing Bible class teachers, have you? Unless that list is comprised of Bible class teachers waiting for a break in teaching, that is! Other work in the churches are often left to the elders and the preacher…if the preacher is fortunate enough to have working elders.

It’s tough sometimes to get good volunteers in the plant world, too. I waited all season for my beautiful “Datura Metel” to sprout from dropped seed, since the ones I carefully planted didn’t come up. But….nothing. Sure, I had the usual profusion of Bachelor’s Buttons and zinnias, but some of the things I wanted did not appear on their own.

Some seeds must be coaxed carefully if they are going to sprout and grow. We have used sunny windowsills, special lights, mini-greenhouses, and other equipment to get seeds started. I have washed my seeds as I saved them, then soaked them before planting, and even used a knife to nick the seed coat on some larger seeds.

Parsley seeds are particularly slow to germinate. There is an old wives’ tale saying that the parsley goes to the Devil and back seven times before it sprouts. This nonsense is doubtless perpetuated by countless generations of gardeners waiting with bated breath for their seeds to sprout.

One notable exception to this frustratingly common problem is the old viola variety known colloquially as the “Johnny Jump-Up.” It sprouts in the most unlikely places from seeds dropped by plants the previous season. I’ve seen these charming little pansy-faced plants jumping up between paving stones, in stone mulch, and in cracks in driveways. Their tiny faces seem to say, “Hello! Here I am!”

What a refreshing example Isaiah demonstrates as he volunteers for a difficult task of teaching a nation that refuses to learn!

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go, and tell this people:
“Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.”

‘Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed’” (Isaiah 6:8-10, NASB).

Many times the reason we don’t volunteer is that we think someone else could do a better job, or we assumed someone else jumped at the opportunity before we could.

Isaiah clearly didn’t feel worthy at all. In the previous verses he voices his inadequacy even to stand before the Lord of hosts. Yet he didn’t seem to wait for another volunteer to step forward. We hear no reluctance in the words, “Here am I. Send me!”

It’s as if you could see him jumping up, like a schoolboy with his hand raised, saying “Pick me! Pick me!”

As my little violas willingly and cheerfully jump up in the spring, I am reminded to be a little more quick in my own volunteering.

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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2 thoughts on “Johnny Jump-Up

    1. Marty, you ARE a great example of volunteering! Both for God’s work, and for helping your neighbors. Gary and I are amazed at how much you do. God bless you and Alethea with strength for your many labors.

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