TITLE: the Better Thing
By Kurt Youngdale
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Jeff could not sleep. He had been waiting for this day to come. Today he would reach a
milestone. The kind of milestone each child covets but each adult would rather forget.
Today was Jeff’s birthday. Furthermore, today was a Saturday, Jeff would not have to
wait until after school to open his presents. He was hoping for one present in particular.
He had asked his mother to get him a video game. His mother said that she thought the
game was inappropriate. He pleaded with his mother saying that if he possessed such a
video game he would gain a level of prestige with his classmates that had before been
unheard of. His mother simply replied that she would discuss the matter with his father.
Jeff dressed himself and went downstairs. The hands on the clock on the wall indicated it
was still early so Jeff went into the TV room to watch cartoons. Time dragged by and
with each moment that passed Jeff could hardly stand it.
Jeff’s dad came down the stairs. “I see you’re already dressed. Get your shoes on.” No
‘good morning’, thought Jeff, no ‘happy birthday’, either. This didn’t seem like a good
start for such a special occasion.
“Aren’t you forgetting something dad?” Jeff asked hoping to jog his father’s memory.
“I don’t think so” his father replied after thinking about it for a moment.
“Where are we going?” Jeff asked.
“You’ll see” was his father’s only reply.
They drove for a long time. Jeff looked out the window but didn’t notice anything
familiar. “You know Jeff, In the Bible, the apostle Paul said it is better to give than to
receive and Jesus said we had to deny ourselves and take up our cross.”
Jeff didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to deny himself, it was his birthday. He wanted
to receive something.
His dad pulled into a driveway of a house Jeff had never been to before. The grass was
high and the shrubs were overgrown. They went up to the door and knocked. A woman
answered the door and they went inside. Once inside Jeff met a man in a wheelchair. “Hi,
Tom” the man said, shaking his father’s hand.
“Hi Bill, I want you to meet my son Jeff.”
“How are you doing today Jeff?” the man asked politely.
“Fine, sir” Jeff replied unconvincingly.
“What brings you out this way?” the man asked.
“Just came by to fix a few things and Jeff’s great at mowing lawns.” Mowing lawns! Jeff
thought, I don’t want to mow a lawn on my birthday.
“I don’t know what to say” the man responded.
“You don’t have to say anything, I’m just glad I could help.”
Jeff was shown where the mower was and he got to work. His dad disappeared into the
house. The temptation to do half a job enter Jeff’s mind. It was clear he didn’t want to be
there. Then a verse came into Jeff’s head, ‘do everything as unto the Lord.” He started
mowing and as he mowed he kept repeating the verse silently in his head.
Jeff didn’t know how long he had been mowing. The yard was larger than he thought it
was when he first arrived but now the sum was beating down on him and he began to
sweat. The woman he had met earlier came out and told him it was time for lunch. “So
how are you coming along?” his dad asked as they sat down for lunch.
“I’m almost done, probably another half hour.” Jeff replied.
“You’re making good time. I really appreciate you coming out”
Jeff and his dad were there for another hour and then they left.
“Why did we come out here dad?” Jeff asked.
“Today was Bill’s birthday, I knew there were a few projects that he wanted to finish but
he hasn’t been able to since the accident.”
“How come you didn’t wish him a happy birthday?”
“Some people, when they get older don’t like to be reminded when they have a birthday.
Bill knew, I didn’t have to say anything.”
Jeff thought about it a moment. He hadn’t realized just how good he felt about helping
Bill and his wife. “You know dad, it is better to give than to receive.” Jeff’s dad smiled.
“How about an ice cream before we go home?” Jeff’s dad asked.
“Sounds great dad,” Jeff replied, forgetting all about the video game.
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