“You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way,
and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
I was sitting on the porch swing with a close friend discussing special moments in our lives. Her Papaw grew watermelons and like many garden plants, a melon is the result of a very large and yellow bell-shaped flower. It blooms, wilts and falls off the vine. In a short time you notice a marble size ball on the end of that same stem. Don’t get excited, there is a good chance that marble may fall off as well; the survival rate is 50/50. Once this future delicacy grows to the size of a golf ball you can begin to see how well your crop is going to produce.
When my friend was six her Papaw took her into the watermelon patch and let her pick out her own melon. She picked one that was about seven inches long. As the two knelt next to it, Papaw picked up the tiny melon and gently placed it in her hands. She leaned back on her knees and held it in her lap while he took out his pocket knife and lightly carved her name on the side of the melon.
“Why is my name so small?” she asked. The name was barely visible.
“Because you are so small,” he answered. “When this melon grows up, so will you.” He smiled at her and continued, “In order for this melon to be the best melon ever, you have to nurture it. That means when you come to visit you have to pull any weeds that are nearby, so they don’t sap the nutrients and moisture the melon needs. You will also need to take this rag and wipe off any dirt and keep it clean and shiny. That will make it the bestest and sweetest melon you ever had. The greatest part is that it’s all because of the way you raised it.”
She smiled and went on just being a little girl. Every week she went with Papaw to cultivate her melon and watched it leisurely grow to maturity. As they drove the old tractor to the field and walked into the patch, there was one thing she looked forward to. You see, as the melon grew her name grew with it. Her enthusiasm grew and she could not wait to see how much her name increased in size with each visit.
When the time came to harvest the melon, the name was so big she could see it from several yards away. She was proud of her name standing out among all the other melons. From one end of the dark green melon to the other, her name was engraved in big bold cream-colored letters. She helped Papaw carry it and as she climbed up on seat he placed the melon on her lap. She smiled all the way to the house. The rest of the family was waiting at the picnic table in the back yard ready to chow down on sweet melon. Everyone was patting her on the back and rubbing her head saying, “Way to go!” My friend was privileged to make the first cut and pick out the first piece, a memory she has never forgotten.
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
When our children are born and we scribe their name on a birth certificate the cultivation and nurturing begin. It is our duty to keep the bad weeds away so that they receive the nutrients we provide and keep those things away that sap strength and sweetness from them. The almost invisible names we engrave on their heart, when they are but marble size, stand out among others in the world and speak not only their name, but ours. Our children impart integrity, truth, honesty, sincerity, value and even God’s love to places where these virtues may not be present. When presented to the world they become an illuminating path to God’s love; an everlasting memory carried for eternity.
Someday, our family of believers will welcome us to the big table in the back yard of heaven, slapping you on the back and saying, “Way to go!”