The End of the Row

My Father was a part-time farmer and a part-time preacher.  In 1938, during the Dust Bowl days, and in the midst of depression, he left the farm and moved his family to Arizona.  Conditions made the situation untenable.  Land, that had once been prosperous, could no longer yield a crop.  In Arizona, daddy became a day laborer in the citrus groves working hard to provide for his family, but he never refused an opportunity to preach when invited.

One of the things I remember and most appreciate about My Dad was his will to work.  He grew up on a dry land farm in Tennessee.  He was a real hillbilly.  The only way to keep body and soul together was to work, without shirking, from daylight ‘til dark.  Will Clark learned that work ethic early, and he passed it on to his children, even his girls.

When I was ten or twelve years old, daddy started taking me and my little sister to the cotton field on Saturdays.  We were awakened and routed out of bed before sunup.  We weren’t going along for the ride.  Mama made cotton sacks for each of us, and daddy expected us to use them.

There were plenty of reasons why we might not like such a chore.  It was Saturday – time to play.  It was hard, hot, heavy work.  By the time cotton is ready to be picked, the boll holding the cotton is dry and sharp and hurtful to tender little fingers.

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However, I don’t remember any temper tantrums at the thought of picking cotton.  We just went along.  Daddy picked two rows with me on one side and June on the other.  We picked off his rows, and he did try to make it fun.  Often he would pick a big double handful of cotton and put it in June’s sack or mine.

By the middle of the morning, the sun was scorching hot.  My little sister would sometimes sit down on the end of her cotton sack and say, “It’s hot!  I’m hot!  I wish the wind would blow.”

I can still hear my father’s voice as he said, “Look, honey, look right up there.  There’s the end of the row.  When we get to the end of the row, we are going to get a cold sodi (soda) pop, emphasizing the word cold.

In that instant hope was born.  This hot, uncomfortable morning was not going to endure forever.  There was something better to look forward to.  At the end of the row we would not only be recompensed for our hard labor, but we were promised a refreshing.  You can’t imagine the gladness that promise brought to two little girls who seldom had an extra nickel for a strawberry sodi pop – mm.

We tackled the cotton with renewed vigor and great anticipation making short work of the rest of the row.

The summer before my freshman year in high school, I picked my last boll of cotton.

“I’d rather starve to death,” I said, but sixty-five years later I am very far from having starved.

Did I like to pick cotton?  NO!  I did it because it pleased my father.  Though I was not aware of it, he was teaching me a lesson that has served me a lifetime.

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Don’t quit because it’s hard.  Don’t give up just because you can.

I am not a politician nor am I a philosopher.  I don’t know how to be politically correct nor do I want to be.  I do want to be Biblically correct.

I have seen and read more news in the last year than in all my life combined.  I don’t like what I see.  Our world and our beloved America are in a mess.  Life has become, difficult, uncertain, sordid, and dangerous.

A sense of helplessness hangs in the air.

I pray.  I vote.  Can I do anything else?  Oh, Yes!

In I Corinthians 15:58, the Apostle Paul says, “…my dear, dear friends, stand your ground.  And don’t hold back.  Throw yourselves into the work of the Master…nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”

In Revelation 22:12, Jesus says, “I’m on my way!  I’ll be there soon!  I’m bringing my payroll with me.  I’ll pay all people in full for their work…”  In verse 17, He invites us saying, “Is anyone thirsty?  Come!  All, who will, come and drink.  Drink freely of the water of life!”

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From seventy years past, I hear my father’s voice.  “Look, there’s the end of the row.  Don’t quit now.  There’s reward at the end of the row.  There’s cold sodi pop.”

Thank God for hope!  This life is a vapor that vanishes.  Eternity is forever.  Don’t quit now!

I wonder!  Will there be any strawberry soda pop in heaven?

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things Thought Impossible

I was born with the wanderlust. I inherited it from my father. He never saw much of this world, but when he became restless, we just moved across town. In fact, we lived in seven different rentals, in the same small town, between my second birthday and kindergarten.

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We always paid the rent, so we weren’t running from the landlord. I have seen a lot of the world and yet, at the age of eighty, I still long to fly away to some distant land to see new faces and experience new places.

 

 

When I was four-years-old, my father decided to move the family to Colorado. Someone told me it snows there, and Colorado was colored pink on the map, so I put it all together and decided that the Colorado Mountains were covered with pink snow. I was excited.

The day came when the seven of us, mama, daddy and five kids, piled into our 1934 Buick and started across the Arizona desert towing a large four-wheeled trailer filled with our early poverty belongings. For some inexplicable reason, my father chose the month of August for this family adventure. In 1939, there was no such thing as air conditioning in an automobile, but not a one of us died from heat exhaustion.

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Zipping along through the burning desert, at 40 miles per hour, we made good time until we turned north toward the mountains. Yarnell Hill was our first challenge. To my father’s dismay, the Buick balked unable to pull the weight and make the uphill grade. Again and again, he tried to no avail.

Finally, daddy decided that he would off-load part of the weight, take the rest to the summit and come back for another load. Part of what he off- loaded was My Mother, my sisters, and me. The boys would be his helpers. We have a picture of my twelve-year-old sister standing in the skinny shade of a saguaro cactus.

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My Dad has been gone for many years, but I can still feel his frustration, disappointment and sense of failure as he tried time and again to find a way to get his family to Colorado. At the end of the day, hot, tired, dirty and disheartened, we turned around and headed back to Wickenburg.

 

There we found a place to camp for the night. Daddy went to a nearby grocery store coming back with supper – bread, bologna and a big bucket of ice water. Setting the icy water down by the car running board, where I rested my four-year-old self, my father turned to other chores, and I lifted my poor tired, dirty, disappointed little toes and plunged them into that deliciously frigid bucket. To this day, I cannot remember the consequences of my precipitous action, but there had to be some compensation for the loss of pink snow, right?

cactus

The next morning our tired and wiser family headed back to the valley where my parents were at home for more than fifty years. The mountains defeated us. Had we conquered the first rise, which was not much of a mountain at all, I wonder what we would have done when we reached the Rockies.

Years ago we sang a little chorus:

“Got any rivers you think are uncrossable.

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through.

God specializes in things thought impossible.

And He can do what no other power can do.”

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Mountains often defeat us. Too frequently we are faced with insurmountable problems to which there is no discernible solution. Like my father, we exhaust ourselves trying to get over, around or through the problem. 2500 years ago, a man named Zerubbabel faced just such a mountain.

After seventy years in captivity, he led 50,000 Israelites back to Jerusalem, where they anticipated rebuilding the temple and their treasured city. He was no doubt discouraged when he saw the extent of the work, his feeble resources, and the formidable opposition. This was a mountain he could not cross.

In Zechariah 4:6 – 7 we read: “…This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain!” I like the way the Message says it. “So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you are nothing but a molehill.” You may be facing an unscalable mountain today. Remember, it is not by your efforts, but by the power of the Spirit of God. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with Him, that mountain is nothing but a molehill. He can do what no other power can do.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW