” Grandpa’s Secret”



     Some of life’s lessons aren’t always revealed to us instantaneously, sometimes it takes months, years, or decades. I remember such a lesson taught to me by my Grandfather that didn’t register to me until much later in life. I am not sure how old I was or when it exactly happened, but I still remember the incident.


     My older brother and I always seemed to be getting into some kind of mischief, even when we were on our best behavior. One day we were told that on the next day, we would be getting up early and going to visit our mother’s parents out in the country. We were excited about the news. Most of the only time we went for a ride in the car was to church and back. This was to be about a two-hour ride and in the country too. In those days there were no highways built yet and it was quite an undertaking for my father to load up six children and two adults for the journey. To say the least, this was a special occasion, almost like the fourth of July!


     If I were to say that my Grandparents lived on a farm would be a huge overstatement! They were a retired couple who rented what used to be a workable farm and still used part of the land to grow fruits and vegetables for their livelihood. The old barn had collapsed because of decay. We were told to stay out of the ruins because it was too dangerous. While the adults were inside visiting, my brother and I managed to sneak out and explore the site with no mishaps. To us, it was like exploring an ancient archeological site. Being city kids we soon became bored with exploring. As we searched around the yard to find something to do, our eyes zeroed in on what we thought to be just some old discarded vegetable crates. Some were in fair shape, but most of them had broken or missing slats. Thinking it would be fun we started breaking up the crates by stomping on the feeble slats and listening to the snap and pop!


     We didn’t hear him at first, probably because of all the noise were making. It seemed that all of a sudden he just appeared! He wasn’t a large man of stature. His stature was small and frail in appearance. But what he lost in appearance he more than made up for in assertiveness and integrity. It was the silence that ensued after we first noticed him that bothered us the most. I must confess that my brother and I were not used to being spoken to calmly and softly. And when our Grandfather first started to speak we didn’t know whether to run or just fall and beg for mercy.  Then after a brief time of silence, he spoke,  “ What do you think you boys are doing”? My brother answered saying, “We weren’t hurting anything, just busting up these old crates”!  Then Grandpa said, “Those old crates, are your Grandma’s and my crates”.  Then he said, “Come with me I want to talk with you boys”, as he led us beneath the old weeping willow tree. My brother and I looked at each other with doomed expressions on our faces, as we obeyed Grandpa’s request. 


     As he sat down on a metal lawn chair, he motioned for us to sit on the grass in front of him.  He began saying,” You boys sure looked and acted like you were having a lot of fun, and I sure did hate to stop you from doing so”.  “But the fact is that I couldn’t let you continue to break up those old crates”.  Your Grandma and I are not very wealthy and we cannot afford to buy more. We barely make ends meet some months, especially during the winter when we are snowbound. So these old crates play a significant role in helping us make ends meet. I will tell you why. Each spring we plant a large garden out there in the field, which produces tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, potatoes, and other vegetables for canning and storing for the coming winter months. Come harvest time it is a big task to pick and transfer the vegetables to the house and root cellar using those old crates. We have no modern equipment to make this easier for us, so those crates are valuable to us. ” I know you boys had no idea that they were good, so I will not tell your father about what you did. This will be just between you and me. Remember as you grow up, that just because something looks worn out and has outlived its usefulness doesn’t mean that it has.” By this time, I looked at my brother with tearful eyes to see tears running down his face.  Grandpa never laid a hand on us and as far as we knew never told our father, but the discipline was felt just the same.  


     Maybe you heard the saying; “ One man’s junk might be another man’s treasure”. When Jesus Christ walked this earth that’s exactly what he saw everywhere he went. People who seemed no longer to have any usefulness were cast aside by society. The lepers, the lame, the downtrodden, those possessed by demonic control, and those oppressed by a government with unreasonable taxation. People with hearts that were waiting and willing to prove their usefulness. Jesus had an advantage over us humans, he could see into their hearts. We humans unfortunately judge others by outward appearances. We can’t see what’s in a person’s heart, nor can we know what they have been through. So when we see them on the street corner asking others for help, we sometimes make a judgment call that there is nothing wrong with them; that a job wouldn’t cure them. Jesus walked this earth to heal the sick, restore cripples to walk again, restore sight in those who were blind, and save all who were lost. He didn’t cast them aside as something that could not be of use, because he could see how valuable they were to society. 


     Unknowingly, my brother and I didn’t see the value in our Grandfather’s crates. We saw them as the world sees them…………. useless.  This was at a time in our young lives when my brother and I felt cast aside because, of our mothers’s unavailability to us. I will be forever grateful to a man who took the time to try to teach us this important lesson. It helped shape us into the men we would someday become. It is no secret to those who knew this man that he was a Christian who loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, and soul. Yes, Grandpa had a secret, and he shared it with us on that lesson-filled day many years ago. Just because someone or something looks like it has outlived its usefulness doesn’t make it so.


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.          2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV  


I finally realized after so many years; that Grandpa’s secret, really wasn’t a secret after all!





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