“God, why don’t you just kill me?!” he shouted through his tears, “This isn’t fair. Just kill me!”
The 16-year-old boy leaned in pain over the broken wheel barrel full of manure. He was tired by a chain of consequences for his own actions. He was the one who played instead of working. He was the one who put the prong of the pitchfork into the wheel barrel tire. And he was the one who now had to finish moving all the manure with the broken wheel barrel before he could eat supper. He had tried time and time again to pull it, but all his efforts were to no avail. More often than not, the wheel barrel would tip over and he’d have to begin his task again. Dragging the wheel barrel along was literally back-breaking work. His frustration led him to verbally express a desire to cease to be in the land of the living.
I called his name. I walked to where he was and looked into his tear-filled eyes. “Can you do this alone?” I asked.
“No! I can’t!” He cried out.
“Then why don’t you admit that you can’t do it and ask for help?”
“Because I don’t think anyone would help me.”
“You’d be surprised if you asked.”
He paused for a moment and then asked, “Would you help me?”
Without a word I took hold of the wheel barrel full of manure and dragged it to the far end of the garden. By the time I’d gotten there my back was asking me, “Why are you doing this? This isn’t your problem.” True. It wasn’t my problem. But then again it was.
Seeing that I was doing all the work myself, and perhaps feeling a little guilty that he was doing nothing he said, “Maybe we can carry it.” We returned again to the manure pile and filled it again. I took hold of the handles and he took hold of the wheel as we started towards the garden again. Within 25 paces he dropped his end and cried out, “I can’t do this! It hurts too much.”
Without a word I walked to the other side of the wheel barrel and picked up his side so he could have the lighter end of the load. Again, this time more swiftly, my back questioned, “Why are you doing this? This really isn’t your problem!” Then my mind began to more clearly see what I was being Jesus and this boy was being me. Now I knew I couldn’t quit, no matter the cost.
Time and time again we made the tedious trip to and from the garden. Each time my bodily agony grew stronger as my muscles grew weaker and my prayers for divine help grew more fervent. And then at last the final trip was made. I looked at my hands that had so eagerly awaited supper. They were covered in manure. My once clean jacket had fared even worse. My body ached, and I feebly attempted to straighten myself from the deformed posture to which I had accustomed myself.
The boy walked away to eat his supper, apparently unmoved by my act of benevolence. He never said thank you. I was tempted to feel outraged, but then I thought of the Son of God who came down from a kingdom of indescribable glory to help resolve a problem He didn’t create. He endured all the abhorred, filthy elements of this world to save me. And after He’d carried my burden, and after He’d been covered in a different manure, I walked away unmoved by His act of benevolence. And I’m the one who didn’t say thank you. The story repeats itself time and time again as I continue in sin, crucifying Christ afresh–putting Him to an open shame.
Walking away from the garden, I learned the lesson. I can only hope the boy did too.