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Just Joshin’

Spiro! Summer was here and summer meant a week at my cousin Joan’s house in Spiro, thirty long miles from the metropolis of Poteau, Oklahoma. That’s where Uncle Jerry and Aunt Dede lived. We were in for some fun-filled, lazy days.

On the first afternoon, Uncle Jerry called the three of us in to the living room and had us sit down on the couch with him. Then he began this impressive speech telling us how much he wanted us to enjoy our visit. (Uncle Jerry was a tease—a real "tongue-in-cheek" artist.) He assured us that he realized how important it would be for us to have enough money to go to the movies or to the drugstore (that was pretty much the limit of Spiro’s tourist attractions). I can well imagine that as we listened, our hearts were all "a flutter," and that our eyes were saucer-sized. He finished his monologue grandiloquently: I’ve been thinking about this a long time, girls, and I want to give you this money so you’ll have a really great time. He then placed one thin dime in each of our sweaty little palms. A tease. Of course, we did go to the movies and to the drugstore and Uncle Jerry footed the bill. He always did, but he just wanted to "josh us a little bit."

But this summer his offer was for real. He said that if we would dig the potatoes from his garden, we could have the money we’d get from selling them. Excited? You better believe it! My sis, Betty, was the oldest of the trio; Joan was a year younger and then there was the fledgling of the bunch—Anabel. "City" girls from Poteau and Spiro—little girls—eight to eleven. Of course, the first step was to call and find out just how much this windfall would net us. Knowing the dividends is great motivation. "Well, pataters are bringin’ $2.00 a hundurd." You talk about enthusiastic potato people! We started digging and counting potatoes and just to make sure they were really appreciated, we washed them carefully, using a brush to get every little bit of dirt off. When the job was finished we could hardly believe it! Nearly 300 potatoes! At $2.00 a hundred! Rich! We were rich! We were also exhausted, hot, and sweaty with garden dirt under our toenails and fingernails and in our hair—but triumphant! We headed for the farm store, pulling our treasure in a wagon. Our hard labor was really going to pay off—wasn’t it?

Now, for the rest of you city people, that congenial potato man meant $2.00 per 100 pounds! We’d left a good bit of our profit on the driveway at Uncle Jerry’s house when we washed the dirt off the potatoes. The farm-store man agreed with us that they were the "purtiest" potatoes he’d ever seen and paid us a little more than he should have—20 cents more to be exact. We were so little and he felt so sorry for us. I know we were a pitiful sight.

There must have been hundreds of experiences like this in my growing-up years. Why don’t I remember more of them? Why is this one still fresh in my memory banks? I can’t really say, but I would surmise that it was because of the range of emotions. There was the great anticipation, the hard, hard work, the shock of not understanding the agreement set forth by the buyer, and realizing the futility of our labor.

How many of us could put our Christian experience in the wagon with the washed potatoes? Oh, there’s great anticipation and we work awfully hard, only to find that we didn’t really understand, so our labor was in vain.

That’s Anabel’s story. I anticipated so much from the Christian life and I worked awfully hard to make it happen. But all of my labor was futile. Why? Because I didn’t understand the agreement made by the Buyer. So, I kept digging and counting and washing—disillusioned, defeated, depressed. Surely there is more to the Christian life than what I am experiencing. If this is the best God has to offer, I’m not sure I can make it to the finish line . . . or that I even want to try.

The Christian life is supposed to be a life of anticipation. Every day should be a day of anticipated victory, watching with awe His power in my life; a day of coming to know Jesus Christ more intimately; a day enveloped in His love, enabling me to love those in my circle of influence and reveling in their love for me. Anticipation for what my tomorrow will bring, knowing that nothing can come into my life that He can’t handle. Anticipation for the finale and the last curtain call before I move into my mansion so lovingly prepared.

Why is that not the normal Christian life? Could it be that we think Jesus is a "tongue-in-cheek" artist and that He may be "joshin’ us just a little?" He has us sit down on the sofa next to Him and He says,

I’m going to give you some things to help you while you’re visiting earth. The first thing is this: you must realize that I don’t expect you to face the trauma of the world. I didn’t really fashion you to handle all of the problems. I’ll do that for you.

The next thing is pretty personal. You see, in the world you are going to experience tribulation and trials—rejection perhaps—cruel remarks or failure in some of the things you undertake—a lot of hurt. You must remember that you are safe and secure in Me.

Remember, too, that the love of others is very fragile and if you look to their love to sustain you, you’re going to be disappointed. Now, listen to Me carefully: I love you, not because of what you do, but because of who you are, and that will never change. I accept you totally. You are a lovely new creation in Me. You are righteous, so don’t try to achieve righteousness. It’s My gift to you.

And I realize that you’ll make some mistakes. I’ve made provision for that, too—you are forgiven—completely.

Please remember, I am in you to meet life for you and you are in Me to rest and accept what the world might throw at you. Now, that’s the agreement—the rules for living on Planet Earth. Are you with me?

I hear. You have heard. Both of us are sitting on the sofa with our hearts all "a-flutter" and our eyes as big as saucers as we listen to His impressive speech. But, is He teasing? We must think so because a lot of us are still on our hands and knees digging, or counting, or washing, or pulling the wagon. He is not an offensive, intrusive God who barges in where He is not invited, but He’s trying so hard to get our attention: Hey, you! Over there! I’ll pull that wagon. I’ll dig. Let Me do it all for you.

Sitting by Him on the sofa, listening—but deciding—
That’s too good to be true.
I’ll just ignore this because I don’t really understand.
I’m an exception to the rule.
I’d rather do it myself. I had moved an awful lot of dirt before I said, "Okay. I believe You. Take over." But that decision was made the hard way—through hurt, failure, depression and finally giving up in utter despair. Oh, I was an expert at digging potatoes—but it never paid off. Don’t do it like I did. Go along with His plan. Agree to play by His rules. Believe Him. It’s for real—He’s not "just joshin’." Besides, digging and washing potatoes is really overrated!

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.