Mr. Jablonski’s empty lot

Clean Up by Free_Spirit1983

I was sitting with my best friend Mike, enjoying an RC cola after we had thrown the football around awhile, when Mr. Jablonski drives up in his new gold colored Lincoln Towncar.

“That pickup belong to one of you boys?”

“Yes sir”, Mike replies, “it’s a 68 Datsun pickup…it aint pretty but she drives.”

“How would you boys like to make fifty bucks apiece cleaning up one of my vacant lots?”

“We’d love to, sir” Mike and I replied.

“It’s right behind the Safeway market on Strathern St.  Just chop down all the weeds and clean up the trash and broken glass. It should take the better part of a day.  Here’s 20 bucks up front to pay the dump fees…I’ll pay you rest after the job is done.”

“We’ve busted plenty of bott…” I nudge Mike in the side. “We know the lot”, Mike says. I ask Mr. Jablonski if we can start on it in the morning, and he says that would be just fine.

Mike and I show up at eight o’clock the next morning with a few yard tools we borrowed from home. We bought  a bunch of hefty bags at the Safeway, and went to work.

It had to be the hottest day of the Summer and we busted our tails cutting and bagging the weeds, and cleaning up the broken glass, much of which we had honed our pitching skills in days past by placing an empty RC cola bottle on a rock and then betting who could be the first to break it with a rock at 30 paces. I was expert at this skill.

It’s about 3pm and we are bagging the last of the debris and loading it into the truck packed to the gills for the third time, when a guy walks up and says, “Hi guys, I’m Leon…Mr. Jablonski sent me over to help you clean up his vacant lot.”

We looked at each other in disbelief and said, “Well were just about finished, but you can pick up that broom and sweep off the sidewalk.” He did, and we went back to loading and tying down the truck.

A few minutes later Mr. Jablonski pulls up and without getting out of the car ays, “Fine job boys…fine job. That’s just what I was after! Come on over here boys.”

Dripping sweat and covered in dirt (except Leon), Mike and I…and Leon walk over to the driver’s side of the Towncar.

Mr. J. gives me 50 bucks…two twenties and a ten. He then gives Mike 50 bucks…two twenties and a ten. Mike says, “Mr. J., Leon just got here about 15 minutes ago.”

Mr. J. said, “I know, I know…I sent him over. I didn’t know how far along you boys would and I figured you could use a hand.”  Leon stands there, almost embarrassed now, and then Mr. J. holds out the money, “Here Leon, take it.” It was two twenties and a ten, 50 bucks, just like we got for busting our rear ends all day long!

Mike and I looked at each other in disbelief.  Mike started to say something and I nudged him in the ribs.

“See you boys, later…thanks for a job well done!” And Mr. J. drove away.

That feeling of accomplishment and pride that we were feeling was overtaken with our annoyance and puzzelment that Leon could waltz over here when we were almost done…and make the same amout as we did!

Leon was thrilled to death!  He said, “that was the easiest 50 bucks I ever made in my life!”

We said our goodbyes, grumbling under our breath as Leon skipped down the street…and we headed to the dump.



No. That story did not happen. Not like that, anyway. I cleaned up a couple of vacant lots when I was younger, but the Leon scenario did not happen.

You probably recognized the ‘workers in the field parable’ right off the bat.

Isn’t this the way we are? Isn’t there some part of us that hates it when we strive and others don’t and yet they seem not to be punished, and they even make out as well, or sometimes better than we do?

Isn’t it hard for us to understand how God could be so gracious to little ones in baptism, without having to make any confession of faith or have any understanding at all, up front?

Do you ever feel like the two disgruntled boys felt?





11 Responses

  1. “Do you ever feel like the two disgruntled boys felt?”

    Not really, but maybe that’s just me. I’ve always wondered why someone would begrudge a gift. Your story (and the parable that it’s built on) has a weak spot: it implies that one earns their salvation. I don’t think that was the point of the parable, but that’s one way it could be read. Maybe that is the point, that certain “older brothers” will see the Christian faith as something you earn. It is to them that this parable and the Prodigal one is aimed at.

  2. Darius,

    The freedom of God to be God and do as he pleases was the point of the story (as was Jesus’ parable of the workers in the field).

    Leon did not earn anything. His 50 bucks was out of the goodness of the heart of Mr. J. and his freedom to pay him (give him) whatever he wants to.

    My point also, was that if God wants to give those faith, without them understanding anything about the faith, or anything else, He is free to do so.

    But that just really seems to rankle some.

    In the sense that any of us are rankled by God’s being gracious to the least of these…we are like the older brother, and the disgruntled workers.

    After all, what I have done, what I have decided, ought to be worth something.

  3. SUPERB Steve! You’ve just pulled the facade off of “Bean Counters Baptism” in all its forms.


  4. As humans, we naturally come by a “me first” mind set. Our rules of order in… fairness…are heavily shaded by this mind set. “I shoulda, coulda, woulda been first if the decision had been FAIR!” When we think of God’s ways, we know He will always be fair…and just. But, when life deals us a surprise, and we look at the facts seen…many of us are offended when God does not play by our rules. Such is the caution of Jesus as he tells us the ways of the Kingdom…

  5. If God were fair i would be Hell bound.

  6. Thank Christ for imputed fairness.

  7. Darius, Will, Nancy, Larry,

    Thanks for all your great comments.
    I was re-reading the post this morning and found a spelling error and also I inverted the names right at the end and messed it up.

    I wonder, is our theology a little like that? Do we often look at it and say, now how did I miss that before?

    Anyway, I appreciate that you guys and gals see how it is God’s freedom to call whom He chooses, and give them what He chooses…totally aside from anyhing that they do, or their deserving.

    This I know, but yet I still struggle with it.

    That Old Adam dies hard.

  8. All the time, and if I have to share heaven with members of the ELCA, well, Christ is going to hear it.
    o.k. sarcasm off.

  9. You may see some of the ordinary ELCA up there…but if you end up in the nether regions, you’ll be more apt to run into a bunch of the high up muckety mucks.

  10. “You may see some of the ordinary ELCA up there…but if you end up in the nether regions, you’ll be more apt to run into a bunch of the high up muckety mucks.”

    Maybe, just maybe…that depends on who’s reading the rules, who interprets the rules and where the referee is standing…*; )

  11. Nancy,

    You are quite right. In this game…the Referee is everything.

    It just boggles the mind how some of the ‘coaches’ for some of these teams can completely throw out the rule book that the Referee has provided them with before the start of the season.

    I hope and pray that the Ref. will be merciful…to all of us.

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