When I was young and foolish (as if I am not now) I did something of which I am not proud. I stole some watermelons. Twenty-seven to be exact. Well, it wasn’t just me. I was with my older brother, my then brother-in-law, and a close family friend who lived near our house. In my defense, and it is the only defense I have, I was a young teenager and too young to drive. So I was along for the ride. But when the temptation to swipe (that sounds better than stealing) came slithering into our conversation I did not object.
We swiped (stole) a few watermelons and ate them while driving around and then, getting caught up in our sin, we kept on swiping (stealing). Then we saw that someone had put a light on a roadside watermelon stand. No light was going to stop us in our pursuit of sin. We then took the watermelons, some with dollar signs on them, and put them on my parents open front porch. Yes, that is the preachers’ front porch. I didn’t say we were smart thieves.
The next morning my father, the preacher, awakens us and tells us to return the watermelons. So we gathered the watermelons, put them into the car, drove to MudLake (now Walden Lake) and threw them in the lake and shot them with our guns. Of course my dad found out about that, so our family friend goes to visit relatives in north Florida, my brother goes back to the Marine base where he was stationed, my brother-in-law takes his family and goes on vacation. And I got to stay home, restricted to the house and hearing something about stealing in every sermon for the next few weeks. And yes I have repented and God has graciously forgiven me of that sin.
I have never stolen anything again. A few years later, right before I met my wife Charlotte, Timmy Rogers asked me if I wanted to get some watermelons. I eyed him suspiciously until he assured me he had permission to get these watermelons because they belonged to his grandmother. I was amazed. Timmy could trot down a row of watermelons while bending down to thump them and then he would say, “Get this one, it’s ripe.” And he was right every time. He could tell if the watermelon was ripe by the sound it made when it was thumped.
That got me to thinking that is what God does with us as Christians. God “thumps” us with adversity, with difficult circumstances, and with afflictions to prove that we are ripe, that we are mature. I must admit that I do not like the “thumpings” God uses in my life, but I do like being found ripe and mature for His use.