The Judge's Hobby

A number of years ago while driving west on Randolph Street in Chicago I stopped at a nursery to purchase some small evergreen trees to plant around our home. I knew the owner of the nursery fairly well and he asked me if I had ever met Judge . . . . I said I had not, but would like to very much.

He introduced me to the judge who was selecting various types of foliage, plants and evergreens. We talked for a little while and then the judge noticed I was looking at the type of foliage, etc., he had been selecting.

The judge remarked, "I notice you are looking at the selection I am making."

It differed a great deal from the selection I was making. I was selecting nice looking, well shaped evergreens but he was picking out all kinds of shrubbery no one else would seem to want.

Then the judge told me the following story: " I have a summer home on one of the lakes in the northern part of Michigan and often I come over here to pick out shrubbery and trees like these. I take them up to my summer home, plant them, fertilize them, care for them and direct their growth. I get great pleasure watching them develop into good looking plants and trees.

"You see," said the judge, "This is My Hobby." I would very much enjoy your coming up to my summer home sometime and allowing me to show you some of the finest looking plants and trees grown from the type of shrubbery you see me selecting now."

When our little visit was ended and I had told the judge how much I had enjoyed making his acquaintance, I got into my car and started for home.

I had not driven very far until I felt the tears fill my eyes.

The judge's story had taught me a spiritual lesson I was not going to forget soon. I thought of the many saints I had never visited; never sought to help to bear their burdens; never sought to bring comfort to them from His Word; or help to restore those who had wandered away into sin.

Had I neglected my duty which afforded more joy than any earthly hobby? I thought of the Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ Who laid down His life for the sheep and Who through His servant John said, "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

Often in my mind's eye I would see the judge on his summer estate. What would he be doing? He would be watering the plants, raising up some that had been trampled down, splicing and binding up a broken branch or bracing up a tree that had been bent over by a storm. He knew what to do in every case. "He was a workman that needed not to be ashamed" and he had a heart and a joy in doing it!

The hymn writer who wrote the following words entered into what it meant to be a true shepherd of the sheep:

Oh, give us hearts to love like Thee - -
Like Thee, Oh Lord, to grieve
Far more for other's sins than all
The wrongs that we receive.

- W.G. McCartney