Honesty, Faith and Courtesy.
If these "raised right" values are instilled from the start they will usually last you through out your life. My writings I hope will be accepted with the understanding that I share them just to put a smile on your face or get you to reach back into your own past and remember the good times. Because if you don't step back and remember, you can lose a very important part of you life.
Not long ago, I was sitting on my patio having my early morning coffee. I had spent a sleepless night tossing and turning thinking about bills, work, and what the future held for my family. It had seemed that no matter what I did lately, there was a grey cloud hanging over me that just wouldn’t go away.
I was confused over why my life had taken such an awful turn for the worse? I had been “raised right”. My parents had instilled in me the good basic trait of honor, loyalty, caring that are the foundation our family had always felt were needed for a person to live a life of worth. But lately it seemed that no matter what I did I felt I was being punished for something. So much so that I was starting to second guess my beliefs towards the existence of an all powerful God.
I didn’t understand. If there was a God with such an understanding and love for His people, what had I done to seem to make Him turn His back on me? I had been taught that no matter what, He was there and that He was always listening. I had been told that no matter what happens I should keep my faith in Him. I had been raised to follow His commandments, which I always tried to do, even though I knew I had faltered like most men do from time to time. Still, I considered myself and hoped that others also saw me as a kind, considerate and loving man.
I dropped my head, closed my eyes and for the first time in a long time, I prayed to my God. I told Him of my worries, my concerns, my fears and finally my grievance that it seemed He had forsaken me to the point that I was questioning His existence.
Then, I challenged him. I asked Him to give me a sign that He was still there for me, it didn’t have to be a big sign, no parting of the seas or window rattling earthquake. Just something to tell me that He was still there and that what I had been brought up to believe was true. I was not asking or expecting it to happen immediately. I told Him that I would try to be patient and prayed that I would recognize His sign when it did come to me.
Returning from my prayer, I thought of what I had just done. Did I deserve asking God for proof of His existence? I thought of the old adage of being a “God Fearing Man”. Had I pushed Him too far? Where did I think I had the right to question His existence? I opened my eyes and looked around. So far the world had not stopped spinning nor had it opened and swallowed me up. Actually I, for some reason, seemed to feel a little more at ease.
Before I knew it, my mind had shifted into neutral and I sat enjoying the warmth of the morning sun. I heard giggling and the shuffling of children’s feet on the sidewalk in front of my house then slowly they seemed to drift away, allowing me to slip farther into a light nap.
Then, I heard“You…,“ No You”….. from my driveway and as I was trying to figure out if this was for real or a dream there came the sound of light feet approaching my patio gate. As if to settle the question, very quietly I heard a boy’s voice “Excuse me… Say Mister”.There stood three young boys about ten or eleven years old. Two of them stood side by side holding between them a large sack. Directly in front of them stood the third, his feet planted firmly and his arms folded across his chest holding two objects that I could not quite make out.
Still not sure if I was up to or wanted to listen to whatever it was they wanted, I contemplated ignoring them. Yet, there was something about 'the look" of this young boy that reminded me of another young boy who had been hell bent on taking on the world about fifty years ago. I acknowledge their presence and asked what I could do for them.
Surprisingly, he answered that it was not what I could do for them, but what they could do for me and with that, he started his magic.
“Sir, we are here to offer you the opportunity to buy from us these fine pine cones” thrusting one forward to show me.
Walking to the gate I looked down at the boy and the pine cones. In one hand he held a cone that was still tightly closed and rock hard. In the other hand was a fully opened cone oozing pine sap and shedding its seeds on my sidewalk when he shook it. Obviously, I had no need for their products, but I couldn’t help wanting to see how strong the salesmanship in this young man was.
“Yes, I must say, those are fine looking pine cones but tell me, just how could I use them, son?” I asked. Without hesitation his comeback was “Why sir, you can grow your own pine cone tree! Trying to catch him off guard, I responded “But that would take a very long time and I may not be around to see it grow tall. What else could I use these pine cones for? ” “They’re great for throwing at noisy dogs or cats” as he reached through the gate and pitched the still closed, rock hard cone to me. Instinctively I caught it, and by doing so, I had become the “possessor” of the cone. This would make it harder for me to give it back if I chose not to buy his product. It was obvious this young man had learned the tools of a true salesman at a very early age. I was impressed.
Stalling for time to figure out my next remark, I rolled the cone around in my hand then acted as though I was checking it’s aerodynamics by tossing it up in the air a few times. I answered with “Hmmmmmm, yes I bet they would, but… I don’t want to make my neighbors angry at me for throwing pine cones at their pets. Could there be anything else I can use these pine cones for?” For the first time he seemed to be caught without an answer, he stood looking at his feet deep in thought, as he rolled the other pine cone between his palms. The two friends behind him nervously shuffled the almost full bag which surely held every loose pine cone for a two block radius. Guessing that this sale was not going to happen, one of them started to thank me for my time when suddenly the salesman jerked his head up with a big smile, looked me straight in the eyes and said, Sir, If you were to take and tie it to a stick, you would have a very nice Pine Cone Back Scratcher." I thought about it for a couple of seconds. I mean it was quite obvious, it only made sense, he was right. Why If I were to tie this fine pinecone to a stick, I would surely have The world’s greatest and probably the world's only pine cone back scratcher. Well, I had to have it. “So son, you’ve sold me. How much do you want for these pine cones? Again without pause his answer was, “For you sir, I will let you have these fine pine cones for only 50 cents each, or four for two dollars, then turning to look at his two best friends with, I have no doubt. a wink in his eye he threw his last pitch at me. Or give us ten bucks Sir, and you can have the whole bag.”
I called out to my wife to bring me two dollars. The others two boy’s eyes lit up like they had just hit the lottery. I proudly paid for my four World’s Greatest Pine Cones, thanked the boys for giving me the opportunity of buying such wonderful items and watched as they scampered down my sidewalk.
As they left, the bag carriers slapped their #1 salesman on his back as he looked around for the next customer. The last thing I heard him say was, “It’s simple guys, ya just gotta believe, if you believe, there’s just about nothing that can’t happen”. Then he turned back to me, threw me that smile one more time and we waved to each other.
I sat back down and thought about what had just happened. I smiled to myself thinking about the confidence the young boy had shown and his strong belief that he was not going to be turned down, no matter what. This young boy who had made the decision before he even reached my gate, that if there was anyone there to listen to him, he was going to sell that person at least one of his pine cones.
He had not known what or who was around that corner but that didn’t matter. He was going to get his message across to whomever he met, no matter what. There was no second guessing that, because, there was no second guessing his beliefs.
It was only then did I realize that God had brought this boy to my gate to give me the answer to my prayer. Stunned and yet at ease, I realized that I need not worry, nor ever again second guess the existence and the power of my God.
I closed my eyes and prayed again, thanking Him for His sign that I “just gotta believe” and that if I do, He’ll always be there for me.