The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(If you've been with us awhile, you've read this before, an episode from our family's history where our faithful Lord yet again revealed His longsuffering patience to His problem child, Glen, and in the process, bestowed upon us an immeasurable blessing that illustrates the theme we have been considering this week.)
"Grace and Peace"
Part 3 - Mr. Schaffer's Pecans
During our walks, Frances andI often pass by the house where we once lived. Of course, this also takes me past the home of my former next door neighbor, Mr. Schaeffer. He was an elderly gentleman, possessed of a somewhat gruff exterior. I tried to be gracious and polite to him, but for some reason, we never seemed to connect as friends. Until...
...Until one fall, when our eldest children Marie and Noah were small children. Mr. Shaeffer's pecan trees shed a bumper crop that year. Many of his limbs hung over our driveway and portions of our backyard. He knew this, of course, and I recall seeing him peer through the bushes at the thousands of choice nuts that had fallen from his trees, but which were legally our possession because they fell onto our property. One morning, I stepped out into my backyard to see a gentleman - a friend of Mr. Schaeffer's - picking up pecans in our yard and placing them in his coat pockets. I knew what was going on, and called out to the man, "Sir, can I help you?" I tried not to sound peeved, but I was. He looked at me as if he had been caught doing something he shouldn't have, - which he had. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm in the wrong yard" he said with an unconvincing voice. "I thought I was next door."
Sure you did, buddy! I didn't actually respond with those words, but I wanted to. I was peeved, put out, perturbed, and determined then and there that Mr. Schaeffer was not going to get MY pecans! I came back into the house, where Frances and our children were sitting together. "Frances, you're not going to believe what Schaeffer did! He sent one of his buddies - one of his henchmen! - over here to steal our pecans. The guy told me he had mistaken our yard for Mr. Schaeffer's. Likely story! He was sent over here, and was taking that which is rightfully ours! Can you believe it???" I paused my diatribe long enough to allow myself to fume a bit. Then inspiration hit. "You know what we're going to do, Frances? The kids and I are going to go out there and pick up all our pecans so Mr. Schaeffer can't get them, or send over his friends to do his dirty work! Because those pecans are ours. They are rightfully ours!"
I will never forget the Lord's interruption of my journey down Carnality Lane. Maybe it was the look on my family's faces. Somehow, the thought came to me of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of how He handled His earthly life's situations and relationships. I realized He he had never acted the way I was acting, and that He had willingly given up the glory He so richly deserved in order to redeem us unto the glory we don't deserve. "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21). It hit me like a ton of holy bricks cast into my unholy looking and acting face. I realized the horrible example witnessed by my wife and children. I had allowed the misery of selfishness and bitterness to envelop my soul (and as their husband and father, jeopardized theirs). Most of all, the Lord reminded me of the price He paid on the cross of Calvary to redeem me from such a fleshly and destructive attitude. He had suffered and died for the sin I was so blindly committing. I then knew what I had to do.
First, I repented, confessed my sin, and thanked our Heavenly Father for His forgiveness and exposure of my waywardness. Indeed, as you read this, please understand that if the Lord had left me to myself, my family and I would have enjoyed a belly full of pecans that autumn, while suffering from the ravages of my selfishness. God mercifully saved us from such a fate by rescuing me from my fleshly sin and insanity. I confessed to Frances, Marie, and Noah that the Lord had showed me the error of such an attitude for one who professed Christ. "I was wrong, and I am sorry. There is no excuse for what I said and how I behaved." I paused for a moment, and then a thought occurred to me. "Come on, kids, we have pecans to pick up!"
We filled several bags with the choice nuts. We made our way to Mr. Schaeffer's back door, and knocked. He took a while to come out, and when he did, his initial look seemed to be one of suspicion. "Mr. Schaeffer," I said, a bit nervously, but with a smile, "Your pecans have been falling in our yard and driveway. Marie, Noah, and I picked them up for you, and here they are." We handed one bag to him, and set the others on his steps. Suspicion gave way to shock on Mr. Schaeffer's face. Then, his countenance softened into the kindness I would often see on the man's face throughout the duration of his life. In that moment, and always thereafter, I discovered a hidden vein of richness in Mr. Schaeffer. He couldn't do enough for us. He frequently invited us over to offer us food, or give toys to the kids, or just to talk. Not long after the episode, Mrs. Schaeffer became terminally ill. We walked with Mr. Schaeffer through the trying time of her passing. Not too long after, Mr. Schaeffer himself passed away.
I served as a pallbearer at his funeral, held with military honors. We learned that Mr. Schaeffer had served in World War II, where he had survived a hellish ordeal known as the Bataan Death March. I can only imagine what he experienced in that terrible time, but I came to understand why one had to get to know Mr. Schaeffer before the real person stepped forth. I'll always count it a great honor to have served in Mr. Schaeffer's homegoing service. We recently passed by the church where the funeral was held. I reminded Frances of that long ago farewell. She remembered, and we both smiled as we thought of our friend. Our friend.
We serve a faithful Lord, one who saves us from fleshly tendencies of selfishness as we trust and submit ourselves to Him. Left to me, our family would have missed a rich blessing in lieu of a few bags of nuts. The Lord didn't leave me to myself, however, and blessed me with a gift that still brings joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. Mr. Schaeffer's pecans. I love recounting the story because it reminds me of our friend long ago departed - and of our Friend forever present, active, and redemptive in our lives. And, it reminds me of our current consideration regarding how much God's freely given grace in the Lord Jesus leads to peace, and to cherished memories that would not exist apart from our Father's faithful and gracious working in our hearts.
"So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before Thee. Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel."
Weekly Memory Verse
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen
(II Peter 3:18).