Hardly daring to breathe, Ruby flipped to the next page, letting her eyes run through the lines as fast as her mind could keep up. What was going to happen? She stiffened, unsure how the main character would escape from her predicament alive. The villain was gaining on her; he was about to grab her. The girl’s heart was thumping so hard she knew she could not run any faster. His firm hand was now on her shoulder. In another moment –
“Ruby, can you come here a minute?” The call from her mom burst in on Ruby’s dream world. Her own heart was beating almost as fast as the girl’s in the story.
“Coming,” Ruby called obediently. Reluctantly she snapped the book shut and got up off the couch. “Why did she have to call now?” she groaned inwardly. “I have to know what will happen.”
Entering the kitchen, Ruby saw her mom rolling out a pie crust, flaky, buttery, already looking good enough to eat.
“Mmm, that looks good.” Her mouth began to water.
“I hope it tastes good,” Mom smiled. Carefully her hands continued rolling the pin over the dough, leveling it to the same thickness. “How does peach cobbler sound?”
“Sounds good!” Ruby smacked her lips.
“It will take about 10 peaches. You can go out and pick the ripest peaches you can find then bring them in and slice them up. The slices shouldn’t be too thick. About like this.” She held up her hand, spreading her thumb and index finger about half an inch apart.
“Okay, I’ll get them.” Ruby grabbed the woven basket they used for picking fruit and headed toward the peach trees. They had four peach trees by the garden: two large ones laden with juicy peaches and two saplings that were hardly producing yet. It didn’t take long for Ruby to select and snap off ten burgundy highlighted peaches and pile them in her basket.
As she worked, two thoughts were racing around in her mind. “What will happen in my story? I can’t wait to find out,” and “I sure hope Mom appreciates what I’m doing. She doesn’t know how much I’m sacrificing.”
Ten peaches stacked neatly in the basket, Ruby hurried back to the house. She settled herself at the kitchen table with the washed peaches, a paring knife, and a bowl. The first little piece she cut off she popped into her mouth, letting the warm, peach-pie tasting bite melt in her mouth, leaving behind the syrupy juice. Savoring the sweetness, Ruby hurried to slice all the peaches.
Her mom was not in the kitchen anymore. Ruby could hear her in the living room, helping Mica, Ruby’s 8 year old brother, with his schoolwork.
“Now Mom won’t even notice how hard I’m working,” Ruby grumbled to herself. The last slice of peach had bounced into the bowl, and her mom still hadn’t returned.
“Mom, I’m done,” Ruby called loudly.
“Have you cleaned up your mess?” came Mrs. Randall’s reply.
Ruby sighed. “No,” she admitted.
“Then you’re not done.”
By this time, Ruby was feeling very frustrated. Not only had Mom not noticed what she had done, but she had pointed out more work to be done. Ruby quickly cleared the dishes and wiped away the sticky juice.
Back in the living room, she snatched up her book and curled up on the couch to continue reading. Mrs. Randall was still in the corner helping Mica with his Bible class. She gave him an assignment before heading back into the kitchen.
“Thank you, Ruby,” she said on her way out of the room.
Ruby began to feel ashamed “You’re welcome,” she answered quietly. Thoughts about her selfishness kept her from opening her book. Over in the corner, Mica was reading his Bible lesson aloud to himself.
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.
He read the verse carefully then continued reading the lesson. It blended with Ruby’s thoughts, making her take notice.
“One reason we are here is to serve others,” he sounded out the words in a monotone. “It is our re- response- responsibility, but it’s also our pri- privilege. Serving brings joy. We should be thanking people for letting us serve them, instead of expecting them to thank us for serving.”
There was more to the lesson, but Ruby did not hear it. She was convicted as she thought of all the hours her mom served the family every day without expecting thanks.
Ruby thought a quick prayer, asking God’s forgiveness for her selfishness and thanking him for the opportunity to serve her family. “Please help me to serve with love and joy next time,” she prayed.
Peaceful, knowing she was forgiven, Ruby turned back to her story. She was ready to find out how the excitement would end!
*Part of the lesson in this story was adapted from a sermon by Dr. David Gibbs Jr.
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It’s easy to be guilty of doing the right thing with the wrong attitude or for the praise of men. Do you have any thoughts about this?
Until next time, let’s serve with joy and gratitude for how much God and others have done for us.