My Aunt Mabel was my father’s oldest sister. She was my grandfather’s first born by his first wife, Martha Lee Johns. She and my Uncle Harley moved the Avon Park, Florida long before I was born. I didn’t see them very often but she left a lasting impression on me. She was hump-backed and had a raspy, high pitched voice. Most importantly for me, she was a link to my history. She was a story teller.
When we all gathered at my Grandmother Johns’ house, the old home place, the kids were sent to bed early and the adults stayed up and talked. A few minutes after being tucked into bed I was up and sneaking into my hiding place behind the sofa in the living room where I listened to the stories. Unfortunately, I was too young to remember the details but they captured my imagination and gave me a sense of belonging.
On a few occasions we drove to Avon Park to visit Aunt Mabel and Uncle Harley. They lived on the edge of town in a small wood-framed house that had been divided into a duplex. Out back were a few orange trees and a grapefruit tree. When I was about three or four we visited and the grapefruit were getting ripe. As we were getting ready to leave Uncle Harley asked Dad if he wanted to take some home.
We went out back and discovered the remaining fruit were all near the top of the tree. Dad said “that’s no problem. Jack can climb up and get them.”
I was proud and confident. I liked to climb and I liked being the solution.
He lifted me up to the lowest branch and I climbed. He called up instructions and I picked and tossed. After a few minutes he said, “that’s plenty son, come on down.”
“Down? How?” When you’re a kid it’s easy to go up but a different thing to come down. I offered some suggestions in the spirit of negotiation. “Can you come up and get me?”
“Get me a latter.” That was bold giving instructions to Dad. He wasn’t into the parental philosophy of negotiating with your children and he sure wasn’t into taking orders from them.
His response, “Jump and I’ll catch you.”
“I said jump!”
I jumped and he caught me, hugged me, tapped me on the bottom and set me down without comment.
Faith, trust and obedience are woven together into a single event. Faith without works (obedience) is dead. Faith without trust in the person making promises is but confident speculation. Trust expressed in obedience is the essence of Biblical faith.
April 18, 2010