Enjoy this devotional written by a FlourishWriter’s Student…
I heard two shots over my head and old widow Prangly yelling, “Gail, get off my land. I am going to tell your grandmother.” She was going to blab to my grandmother, making things worse.
I wasn’t supposed to be there.
Gunshots. Really? I knew they were blanks. She wasn’t that crazy. Still, I wasn’t going to wait to find out.
I entered the property without permission. Hoping to pick yellow, juicy plums without being noticed. This is a suitable way of saying “stealing.” The law would call it trespassing. I prefer to think of it as trivial plum pocketing.
Old widow Prangly’s tree was overflowing with an abundance of yellow plums, the jumbo ones. How could a ten-year old resist? Fully ripened plums. Deliciously sweet. No one would know.
I gathered up plums in my dress and hurried home. I hid behind my house to eat them, trying to keep out of sight as the juice dripped on my dress. It was hard to ignore the pesky stains.
I buried the yellow-stained dress at the bottom of the garbage can along with the shame for what I had done. I swore to never speak of it. My plan was to avoid my grandmother’s house for the next month. Maybe grandmother would forget.
However, one day my mother sent me to the grocery store for grits and eggs. I tried to get out of it, but mom persisted. I was the one to go. I didn’t want to walk the long way because it was 80 degrees that morning. There was only one shortcut option–to sneak past my grandmother’s house after committing that awful crime.
Leaving the store, I tiptoed home past my grandmother’s house. Perhaps she was working in the garden. I was wrong. I spotted my grandmother in her floral pink house dress with deep pockets on each side.
I heard my full name: “Gail Gwendolyn Clark, come here!” She was bracing herself against the oak tree in the front yard. Positioning both hands on her waist, she was like a mother bear, ready to strike.
Slowly, I made my way to her with my head held down. She knew, and I felt ashamed. I was caught like a spider in a web of guilt.
There was nothing but dead air and intentional silence. I clutched the brown paper bag in both hands. Finally, grandmother asked, “What’s inside the bag?”
I knew she was hunting for something, not just grits and eggs. She said, “Put the bag down, we need to talk!”
I was trying to sound innocent, “About what?”
She blurted, “Plums. Yellow plums.”
Placing the bag on the ground, I replied, “I’m sorry.”
Grandmother made it clear, “I know, and this is what you are going to do. Ask God to forgive you for taking those plums without permission. Then, go to Ms. Prangly’s house and apologize. Stealing is a sin!”
In my defense, it was just yellow plums. Grandmother hammered hard, “It doesn’t matter, small or big, sin is sin. Romans 3:23 says, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (NKJV) ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9, NKJV).”
I walked to the old widow Prangly’s house. Rubbing the perspiration off my hands, I tapped on her door. I apologized for stealing her plums. She stammered, “All right, and don’t do it again!” Without hesitation, I agreed.
Not fully comprehending all my grandmother quoted that day, I knew it mattered to her. Years passed before I fully understood the meaning of those Scriptures for myself.
It’s good when some lessons linger with you.
Small or big, sin is sin. Trying to excuse it or play it down will not work. All sin separates us from God’s righteousness. When we view sin as insignificant or trivial, it affects our relationship with God and His righteousness.
A well-known passage, Psalm 139:1, explains how the LORD knows everything about you. We all have been to forbidden places. We all have names from our past. As imperfect people, we may have been called unfaithful, doubter, instigator, deceiver, people pleaser, bully, coward, sinner, a mess . . . or a plum thief. But those words do not define us. No matter how embarrassing, whatever names you were once called, you receive a brand-new name in Jesus Christ.
Do you have days of unresolved anger when you need to forgive yourself or others? Imagine God saying to you, “Come here and put your brown paper bag down on the ground. Place your bag of worry, your bag of shame, your bag of regrets down near My feet.”
Set down the bag. Shake out all the pain and release your grasp. Let it spill out at God’s feet and let him fill you up with your new identity in Christ.
Gail Clark is the mother of an adult son, certified vision board coach, workshop facilitator, and a friend. She is a retired teacher who will always be a teacher at heart. Gail loves studying the Word of God, reading inspirational books, writing short stories, traveling to warm climates, and creating intentional vision boards. She especially enjoys spending time with her adorable Shih Tzu, Precious. Gail lives in Buffalo, New York, a place with four distinct seasons.
Contact her at [email protected].