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Peelin' Pecans

by Carl B. Garner

I'm right in the middle of about five tons-well, maybe five pounds--of pecan hulls, and I have a few pounds to go. As far back as I can remember, it was my job to shell (or "peel," as my Daddy called it) the pecans. My fingers are tender, my fingernails are chipped and my back hurts, but it's worth it. While I'm sitting here peeling these pecans I sometimes wonder why God put such hard shells on them. Why didn't He put a soft, easily removed shell on them like a peanut, or like the banana peel?

In the same thought I ask myself why most of the joys of life seem to have that hard "shell" around them. But I have always heard it said that "anything worth having is worth working for," and we can usually agree on that. If you want to be a good fisherman, farmer, rancher, athlete, salesman or businessman, it will take hard work to get where you want to be. Like it or not, that's the way life is.

The Cost of Being a Christian

It is a fact that being Jesus' disciple comes at a high price, and that is borne out by reading the words of Jesus -even secular history. Each generation faces different trials, but every generation of Christians must face the fact that their redemption came at a high price to God. It cost His "only begotten son," and it takes our total dedication to Him. Jesus told those who wanted to be His disciples, "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple," Luke 14:33. There is a price to be paid, and it's not cheap. Too many people regard their being a Christian as just one of many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of their life. It has its place, but so do their jobs, their hobbies and their friends. To them, none of these take priority over the other, but all have equal significance in their lives. However, Jesus says otherwise. He must be the "center-piece" of our life, not just one of many. It cost Him His life, and it will cost us ours as well (see Luke 18:22-23 and Philippians 3:7-8). Those who want to sit on the sideline and watch the biblical work force will find themselves on the outside of the heavenly home. God demands more than spectators. He expects us to be participants-whole-hearted participants!

A Good Marriage and Well-behaved Children

Most agree that too little has been done to prepare young men and women for marriage. The biological urges may be inborn, but there's more to being "one flesh" than mere biology. One has written: "A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day." If that sounds like work, you're catching on. Both partners in a marriage must be willing to give whatever it takes to make that relationship work, and even then it's not always easy. There is a give-and-take that demands selflessness and love. There are sacrifices which require that we put some of our own wants and wishes aside to make something wonderful out of two people's decisions to face the world together. It takes work, but it's well worth it.

Parents are well aware of the financial costs of having children. From the birth all the way through braces and marriage, the costs are there. But the real costs associated with children are those of time and energy. Many are not willing to pay that price, and later find that their children are going in a direction they had not intended. Becoming a father is easier than being a father. Children demand our time, love and attention, and parents, not "substitutes," must meet those demands. It takes work, but it's well worth it.

When Jesus tells prospective disciples to "count the cost," He includes both the costs and the benefits. Yes, the price is high, but the benefits are incomparable. When we purchase an automobile, we pay thousands of dollars for it, but those dollars bring needed transportation that makes the cost worthwhile for us. Being a follower of Christ will cost "all we have," but it has earthly and heavenly rewards. It takes work, but trust me-it's worth it.

Of course, it's also true that evil and wickedness come with a high price tag. All the hospitals, courtrooms, prisons and psychiatrists together cannot house nor give comfort to all those affected by the sins of a lifetime. Somebody had to pay the price for sin. Only Christ could do that.

Don't fuss about the hardships of life. They make us appreciate what we have. Ouch! There goes another fingernail. But tomorrow-pecan pie!

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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