Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wheaties With Sugar

My An Arkie's Faith column from the June 27, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

The two men sat across from each other listening intently. They had a lot of catching up to do. The last time that they had talked to each other had been seventy years ago. They reminisced about their grade school days when they attended the Morehead School. They had fond memories of those years.

One of the men was my Daddy. While he was visiting a cousin who still lives in southeast Kansas where Daddy grew up, he mentioned that he wondered about his classmates from so long ago. His cousin asked, “what are some of their names?” As Daddy mentioned some names, his cousin said, “I know Marvin, he lives not far away. Would you like to go see him?” Daddy said that he would like to try and see Marvin.

I can’t imagine what it was like for Marvin to answer the door and find a classmate from seventy years ago standing there. Daddy and Marvin had been good friends during those grade school years, but once they graduated in 1948, they went to high school at different schools. They had not seen one another since graduation in 1948, until the afternoon that Marvin answered his door and found Daddy standing there.

They had a wonderful time visiting and remembering stories from when they were just boys. As they recalled their experiences at Morehead School, they fondly remembered a teacher, Miss Muchmore. She was a single lady who lived with her parents on a farm about ten miles from the school. Over the course of the school year, she would have each one of her students come to her parent's farm and spend the night. Even after all of these years, Marvin remembered every detail of his visit to Miss Muchmore’s home.

Marvin grew up in a large family. Like most of the kids in his class, he grew up poor. There was never enough money for extras. Even though it had been over seventy years, Marvin’s eyes still lit up when he remembered breakfast at Miss Muchmore’s house. She served him Wheaties, and he loved Wheaties. He never got Wheaties at home. If they had cereal at all, it was corn flakes; because corn flakes were cheaper than Wheaties. As he remembered how much he enjoyed the Wheaties, he also talked about being able to put a whole spoonful of sugar on them. During World War II sugar was rationed, so Marvin’s mother would only let them have a tiny bit of sugar on their cereal if any at all. To Marvin, that breakfast of Wheaties with sugar was a meal fit for a king.

I’m sure that Miss Muchmore had no idea of the impact she was making on Marvin’s life. How could she know have known that morning when she served him a bowl of Wheaties and told him that he could put a whole spoonful of sugar on them, that he would so fondly remember her kindness over seventy years later. She was simply following the Biblical command; “Be kind and loving to each other.” Ephesians 4:32 (NCV)

In today’s world, kindness is underrated. Often, kindness is considered a weakness. It’s mainly about smiling, getting along, and not ruffling feathers. If you want to get ahead in life, you can’t afford to be kind. But we as Christians, if we are lead by the Holy Spirit, will be kind. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22,23 (NKJV) When we are kind to others, even as small a kindness as a bowl of Wheaties with a spoonful of sugar, we are bearing the fruit of a Spirit-led life. We may never know how our kindness affects someone.

There are many simple things we can do that seem little but can accomplish so much. One of the easiest is to put a smile on your face. When you wear a smile, you become approachable, and that can sometimes make all the difference in the world to another person. A kind word is a small thing, but you never know how it will affect someone.

We also may never know how our hateful and uncaring acts affect others. Many devout Christians become mean, critical, and bitter when they talk about politics. Insults, name-calling, and slander are the order of the day. They don’t seem to remember that the Jesus they claim to worship said to “love your enemies.”

There is no need to tell everyone how Christian you are. Just act like one. Be kind, forgive, love, be merciful, help those who are abused, rejected and scorned. They'll get it. “You are chosen by God. He loves you and has made you holy. So then, care for one another. Be kind. Do not be proud. Be humble. Be patient.” Colossians 3:12 (WE)

Gentle Reader, kindness is a choice. It is something we can choose to put on every day. We appreciate a kindness shown to us. And by the power of God’s spirit, we can show kindness to others. Christians spend a lot of time arguing about politics and theology. Each discussion has a time and place. But following Jesus means doing simple things like being kind. What a different world it would be if Christians followed Paul’s counsel to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.” Romans 12:10 (NKJV) Show someone kindness today, even if it is just a bowl of Wheaties with sugar; “Your kindness will reward you.” Proverbs 11:17 (NLT)

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