Each morning at Camp Side-by-Side, as families are waking up and visiting the coffee cart for their morning cup, our volunteer team gathers for chapel—a chance to re-focus together on our foundational purpose: to share the love and presence of Jesus with the families we serve.
This year, we reflected on the parable of the weeds and wheat from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 13. It’s the story of a king who tells his anxious servants they need not pull the weeds that were planted throughout their wheat field by an unwelcome intruder. Instead, he instructs them, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Not only was this parable befitting of our Farm theme, it also provided great wisdom for how we might respond when an unwelcome intruder invades and turns life upside down.
What kind of intrusion has interrupted your well-ordered life? How have you tried to weed it out?
At Side-by-Side, we see how childhood illness intrudes into the lives of families and wreaks havoc. All we want is to DO something that might help! But this story is not about what we should DO when confronted by pernicious weeds. It’s about who we believe God is, and what we believe God will do. Really, this is a parable about waiting. Jesus is telling us that the Kingdom of God looks like waiting.
NT Wright describes this kind of waiting: “It’s not like waiting in a dark room for someone at some time to come with a light…it’s more like seeing the sun rise, and waiting for the fullness of daylight.”
Just like the anxious servants, we come to God with our grief and disappointment when our lives have been turned upside down, and a list of ideas about how these intruders should be thwarted. And just like the wise and patient Master of the wheat field, Jesus invites us to hold on…to wait, and to trust. When we are preoccupied by the weeds, Jesus reminds us, “The wheat is still growing!”
And so, we learn to wait. We learn that when we look for weeds, we’ll always find weeds…and when we look for flowers, we can usually find flowers. We remember that, if Jesus can make water from wine, surely life can be cultivated amidst the most invasive weeds.
Childhood illness is a particularly monstrous and dreadful weed. And, at Camp this summer, we saw the persistent flourishing of strong and beautiful crops of wheat. A three-year-old overcame her fears on the high-ropes course. Moms painted signs on barnwood with words like Laugh and Hope and Family. Kids enjoyed standing ovations for singing the ABC’s and telling knock-knock jokes. We finished the week by raising a barn, inviting campers to paint a family shingle and nail it to the outside. No matter how horrifying the weeds, the wheat will continue to grow…and by grace, hope will flourish with defiant brilliance.