I got first and you're not taking it."
"Well, I guess I'll just have to remove you then."
"You and what army?" By now the boys were only inches apart.
#71- How Many Queens?
A Character story about harmony.
"My, you're up early this morning," Mr. Jensen teased as Jason appeared at the kitchen door. "Did you forget that it was summer vacation?"
"No way. It's just that the guys are getting together to practice early again so we can be ready for the big game Friday night."
"Well, you should you ready," Mrs. Jensen added as she buttered the rolls and popped them into the microwave. "You've been practicing 8 to 10 hours a day. The grass is looking mighty shabby. When are you going to get it mowed?"
"Oh, ah, yeah, I almost forgot. Couldn't Sis do it? I really have to be there all the time because, I mean, what would they do without a pitcher?"
"Son," Mr. Jensen said seriously, "I'm glad you're having a good time with softball, and I'm glad they need you, but so does the lawn. I want it mowed by supper tomorrow. No later."
"Yes, Sir. Oh, and Mom, I need a sandwich for lunch too. We're planning to practice straight through today."
"I'll see what I can do," Mrs. Jensen agreed as she delivered the bread to the table.
"Hey, Mom, do we have any more of Mrs. Mac's honey that I can put on this hot roll?"
"I guess you can have some, as long as you use it sparingly. I wanted it to last until Sunday when Pastor and his family come for dinner."
"Thanks!" Jason smeared a coating of the yellow liquid over his bread, and then watched as it soaked in.
"Boy that looks good! I think when God made manna in the wilderness, it must have tasted like a hot whole wheat roll with butter and honey! I could eat a dozen!"
When they finished eating, Mr. Jensen took his Bible and opened it. "I believe we stopped yesterday in the middle of the 119th Psalm. We'll start with the 89th verse. 'For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven . . .'" He continued reading until he finished the 112th verse. Then he asked, "Did any particular verse stand out to anyone?"
Mrs. Jensen cleared her throat. "That first verse you read reminds us that the Bible will stand forever as the standard of all that God does."
"How true. Jason, did you want to share anything?"
"Huh? Ah, no. They're all good."
"I thought you might have noticed verse 103, 'How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.' If manna did taste like honey coated bread, David said He liked the Bible even more. It's easy to neglect the Bible and prayer during the summer when outdoor activities crowd in. I hope you and Sissy won't let that happen. Well, let's pray and then I'll have to run." Soon Jason was racing his bike to the park to meet the other guys at the appointed time.
"Hey, Jas. Where's Tom?"
"I didn't talk with him, Mark. But I'm sure he'll be here."
"No big loss if he's not. He can't hit worth beans."
"He's better'n you," Ralph sneared.
"Oh, yeah. Wanna make somethin' of it?"
"Hey, come on, guys," Jason butt in, "let's not start that again. We've got to stop fighting among ourselves. We all need each other. You can't have a one man team in softball." Ralph and Mark turned away from each other and said nothing. "Here come the other guys now. Let's go."
Everyone took his position on the field and Tom hit some grounders to them. When Mark missed the second throw to first, Ralph yelled, "What's the matter with you, butter fingers? Did you forget to wash your hands after breakfast?"
"Shut up," Mark yelled back. "I'd like to see you do better."
"I was hoping you'd offer," Ralph retorted, running toward first. "You can take short stop for a while."
"No way, man. I got first and you're not taking it."
"Well, I guess I'll just have to remove you then."
"You and what army?" By now the boys were only inches apart. Ralph reached out and pushed Mark in the chest hard enough to make him stumble backwards. Then Mark slugged Ralph in the jaw with his fist, knocking him to the ground. Ralph then tackled Mark at the ankles, and soon they were both rolling in the dirt, growing and hitting each other.
The rest of the team ran over and pulled the two boys apart. "What's wrong with you guys?" Tom yelled. "If you both wanna play first, you can take turns or something."
"And who made you the boss?" Ralph fired back angrily.
"I didn't say I was the boss, you jerk."
"Who's calling me a jerk-" and Ralph started for Tom.
Jason saw what was coming and stepped in between them. "Hey, guys. Just cool it. We can't have a team if we're always fighting."
Ralph threw the ball as hard as he could into the ground. "Yeah? Well, you can count me out. You couldn't make me play on this lousy team with these nerds." And with that, he stalked off the field toward his bike.
The rest of the boys tried all morning to put the team back together but by lunch Jason was home. When Mr. Jensen arrived, Jason shared the whole miserable story with his dad. "I don't know what went wrong," Jason finished, "but unless we can work together better, all our ball games this summer will be off."
Mr. Jensen thought for a minute, and then grabbed a jar from the table. "I think this jar can tell you what went wrong."
"A jar of honey? How's that?"
"Let me share something I read recently." Mr. Jensen retrieved a magazine from the living room and paged through it. "Here, this is an article about bees and honey. It says that it takes about 160,000 bees to make just one pound of honey."
"Really? That many?"
"That requires a lot of teamwork, doesn't it? It says here that these bees would travel a total distance equal to 3 times around the world to gather this pound of honey. But the significant thing I want you to notice is this: a hive cannot function without a queen and neither can it function with more than one queen. Mrs. Mac told me they put a queen into a hive they thought had none but the other bees stung her to death and carefully deposited her body outside the hive. This was a sure sign that the hive already had a queen. When all the workers recognize there is one head, then they will work hard and reach the goals of the hive."
"That's interesting, but how can it help our ball team?" Jason asked.
"One problem your team has is that there is no coach, no leader. This means that anyone who feels like being boss tries to be, and strife results. It reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 6, 'No man can serve two masters.'"
"Hey, Dad, would you like to coach our team?" Jason asked enthusiastically.
Mr. Jensen laughed. "I'd like to, but I'm afraid I wouldn't have time, Son. But I would suggest that you get the guys together and choose a team captain, someone you all agree to follow when there's a disagreement. Then encourage the boys who were fighting to make amends."
"That's a good idea, Dad. I think that would help a lot."
"Wait a minute, Jason. I'm not quite done. The principle that Jesus gave us is true of every area of our lives. None of us can serve two masters ever. Let me ask you something: who is the one setting the course for your days this summer, the Lord or softball?"
Jason looked down for a few moments. "I-I guess it's been softball. I keep meaning to read my Bible and pray in the evening but then I forget. I-I guess I'd better get back to starting the day with it."
"I'm glad to hear you say that. I know the whole day goes better when you start it in fellowship with Him. It reminds you that He alone is the Boss. And both bees, and boys need that every day!"