Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009

#17: It’s Mutual

A Character story about servant spirit.

The twins came bounding into the house, slamming the door behind them. "Hi, Mom," Jason greeted. "Can I have a cookie?"

"Jason, I've told you a thousand times not to slam the door. And please take your books off the table. I have to set it for supper."

"OK. But how about the cookie?"

"It's close to supper . . . but I guess you can have one."

"Oh, Boy! Thanks." Jason grabbed the cookie jar off the second shelf and chose the biggest ones for himself and Julie.

"How was your first day back to school after the trip?" Mrs. Jensen inquired, peeling carrots at the sink.

"It was OK," Jason mumbled matter-of-factly, with a mouth full of cookie. He got a drink of water and then continued. "Everyone wanted to know about our trip. We each got to tell about part of it in front of the class."

"It was fun, Mom," Julie announced. "I kind of missed school while we were gone. At least, I don't mind being back. And guess what! We have a new girl in our class. Her name is Karen. She said she wished she could go to Arizona some day too. The other kids weren't very friendly with her but I was. I think she is a really nice person."

"Good for you," Mrs. Jensen affirmed. "Do you have any work to make up?"

"Yeah, a little," Julie admitted. "It won't take us long to do the math. But I don't understand the science at all."

"Me either," Jason added.

"Well, you know who is good at that," Mrs. Jensen grinned. "You can ask your father when he comes home. Why don't you get at the math right away?"

"Oh," Jason groaned. "I'm kind of tired of school work all day. I was going to play a while."

"But the sooner you get at it, the sooner you will have it finished. Then you won't have it to think about it."

The twins reluctantly agreed and took their books to the dining room table. By the time Mr. Jensen arrived home from work, both had finished.

After supper they got their science books and sat with their dad at the table.

"Dad," Jason began, "we studied this stuff today and neither of us got it, especially these two big words here. Could you explain it?"

Mr. Jensen took the science book and read for a few minutes. "Oh, yes," he said with a smile. "This is really interesting. Parasitism - this is where one organism lives off of another and hurt it. Mutualism - this is where two organisms live together and help each other. Here's an example: the oxpecker bird lives on the back of zebras in Africa eating the ticks - these are the parasites that burrow into the zebra's hide. The bird gets a meal, and the zebra gets relief." The twins laughed.

"Here's another example. Bees go to the flowers to get nectar and pollen and they pollinate the flower so it can reproduce. The fig tree could not produce figs if it were not for the fig wasp. The fig wasp gets a meal out of it as well. This is mutualism for they mutually help each other."

"Oh, I get it," Jason responded. "And the parasite thing is where one gets food and the other doesn't get anything."

"No, not exactly. That is called commensalism. Parasites actually hurt their host. They make it weaker or even kill it. Mutualism is a better arrangement, don't you agree?"

"I don't think I've ever really seen mutualism besides with bees," Julie confessed.

"I think you have," Mr. Jensen said. "You just didn't recognize it. For example, our family is supposed to be an example of mutualism. Each of us is to help the others be better people and more like the Lord Jesus."

"Oh, yeah," Jason responded. "I never thought of it that way. I thought this was just for animals."

"Nope. It is needed in all parts of God's creation. Even the earth and moon need each other. Can you think of other examples?"

Julie's face lit up. "Daddy, there is a new girl in our class at school. She said I was really smart and that made me feel good. She said she was so glad that she sat by me. She wants me to help her do well in her work. If I could help her, and it gave me a good feeling, that would be mutualism, wouldn't it?"

"It sure is. Good friends help each other be their best for God. I hope you and Karen can be mutual friends like that."

"I thought of one too," Jason added. "Our new baby! Right now he is living off what Mom eats. But when he is born, he's going to make us all happy."

"Not 'he'," Julie corrected. "She!" Everyone laughed.