Watermelons June 2010

"…Ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out" (Number 32:23).

Jesus said, "For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest (evident); neither anything hid; that shall not be known and come abroad (made plain)" (Luke 8:17).

These Scriptures had a strong influence on me ever since I became a Christian at age 14. I avoided many temptations because of the assurance I'd be found out; and if so, I could not bear the accusations. I wrote in my diary that I could never (deliberately) sin because of the suffering of Jesus to take my punishment for my sins. I wish I could say I never sinned -- but, being human, there were many sins in my life, for which I prayed forgiveness, and repented (made changes, promising it wouldn't happen again).

Jesus said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee…that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins" (Matthew 9:5,6; Mark 2:10).

I had a delightful talk over the phone with Willard Baxley, the man who found one of the balloons released last year on National Day of Prayer by our church school children. He sent a check for the children's ministry.

I called to ask permission to write about him in my "Happenings Along the Way to Heaven", explaining it would be mailed to over 500 addresses and appear on the Internet. He was excited, saying, "I can hardly wait to tell my Sunday school class!"

He shared his watermelon story with me: --

In 1954, when Willard was 12, his uncle hired him to help, working in his fields. He also hired Willard's best friend. The best friend didn't work long, because Willard's uncle caught him stealing some of the watermelons. He notified the police, and the friend had to pay a fine. Willard was appreciative of his uncle's paying them both good wages…since he had a wife and four little children to support. A year later, the whole field of watermelons was stolen. Cleaned him out! No one knew who committed the crime.

Recently, Willard was visiting his uncle and they were reminiscing old times. The uncle asked, "Did you ever find out who stole my field of watermelons?" Willard didn't. His uncle continued: "It was several years later when I found out. Your friend's dad told me his son stole the melons, saying, 'That was the easiest melons I ever stole.'"

Willard was outraged! Really angry that his friend would do such a thing…especially to such a fine man as his uncle…who always gave them melons and other produce from his farm as bonus gifts for their enjoyment and as appreciation for their work.

Suddenly, a still small voice recalled a remembrance to Willard!!! He said, "I remembered some men were hauling gravel from our land that year, and mentioned they sure would like some watermelons. I took (STOLE) three melons from my uncle's patch and sold them to these men. I kept the money! In my anger at my friend, God made me realize He doesn't want us to have anything that doesn't belong to us -- even a small amount. There was a month- long battle wrestling with the Lord over this. Now, I am sending my uncle $21.00, the cost of three watermelons at today's prices."

True. I just bought a watermelon at the Farmer's Market for $7.22.

There is a man on death row named Bill Moore (not my very dear friend of the same name!), a most violent murderer. When captured and sentenced to death, he was immediately sent to solitary confinement. I forget how many months he was in this tiny, dark cell 23 hours of every day. For the first time, he began to review his life. He became a believer, aware of God speaking to him. He was released into a regular cell; spent days reading the Bible; began witnessing and preaching to fellow prisoners. He has become such a great influence that he is allowed to preach in other prisons across the United States. Yes, he will be executed…but what a changed man. It's difficult to understand, but it happens when a person meets the Lord.

I wonder if I could ever forgive him if one of my children was his victim…

When Bernard Madoff was exposed as the perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, my heart was broken for those elderly people who trusted him with all their money, confident their savings would take care of them the rest of their lives. The shock of having it all suddenly disappear is heart-rending. I had no idea there were so many men like him until I began watching TV Channel 45 exposing greed in men in business. How do you forgive them?

In 1941, I began working for a company as secretary-bookkeeper. Two men were partners in its operations. Though not related, they appeared as "father and son." I was fond of the elder gentleman who was in the office most of the time. Part of their income was as a brokerage for a product. The younger man would "short" the amounts in containers. He would report a full container as being half full, or two-thirds full. He was trusted to pay for ALL the merchandise. Instead, he was stealing, cheating these suppliers. I knew about the deception and was uncomfortable with the information. These were the Great Depression days. Jobs, scarce.

I think I worked there about 10 months when the elder partner had a massive heart attack.

He was seriously ill, and his doctor firmly recommended that he retire from business. On a Monday morning, I turned in my monthly Profit and Loss Statement to the younger partner. He changed some figures in pencil; returned it to me to type with his corrections! I knew exactly what he was planning! My heart was really in turmoil. I so wanted to warn the elderly partner of the deception. I couldn't. Jack and I were newly weds of two months. I explained to Jack that I needed to get out of this…and fast! He and my oldest brother went with me to my office that next Saturday morning to tell my boss I was quitting! I cleared out my desk while he raved about how I would NEVER get another job in Houston, Texas. He would see to that!! He had given us a beautiful set of china as a wedding gift. I'm glad he didn't ask for it back! I loved it!!

I had no problem explaining to my next boss why I could not give a recommendation from my previous employer.

A good name is a sound inheritance. I can't imagine the hurt and disgrace for someone in our family to destroy our good name. From Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold." My dad was Walter A. Smith, a well-known business man, a paving contractor building streets, parking lots, and driveways all over Houston and Harris County. He never had a "Job Contract" for customers. His word and a handshake was legally binding. Of course the City and County paving contracts were about two inches thick! I have my dad's Bible; well-worn; verses marked and circled throughout. Precious! I take it to church with me now, because my Bible is too heavy since my heart attacks.

I love the old Gospel songs. One of my favorites: "Take the Name of Jesus with you, Child of sorrow and of woe; It will joy and comfort give you, Take it then, wher-e'er you go. Take the Name of Jesus ever, As a shield from ev'ry snare; If temptations round you gather, Breathe that Holy Name in prayer. O the precious Name of Jesus! How it thrills our souls with joy, When His loving arms receive us, And His songs our tongues employ! At the Name of Jesus bowing, Falling prostrate at His feet, King of kings in Heav'n we'll crown Him, When our journey is complete." Chorus, "Precious Name, O how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of Heav'n; Precious Name, O how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of Heav'n. Amen."

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