I tried gardening a few years ago: squash, peas, cantaloupe, watermelon, and tomatoes. Lots of work for a little produce: break the ground; remove the stones, thorns, and debris; dig the rows; plant the seeds, encircle the garden with marigolds to keep out rabbits and squirrels; raise a rickety scarecrow to ward off what its name implies; water almost every day, and then wait. The garden was productive, and I can think of no greater excitement in recent life than the expectation of the fruit of my own hands’ work, and no greater satisfaction than to taste the fruit of one’s labor. But, alas, when I considered the time and money expended for the garden, I decided just to get my vegetables from Mr. Pug Lightsey and his sweet wife, Yvonne.
Mr. Pug’s place is just about four miles from my house, just off the county road, so it’s quite convenient just to whip in the driveway and buy fresh fruit and vegetables. If Mr. Pug or Mrs. Yvonne is not there, they have an “honest box” on a table. Each fruit or vegetable basket has a plastic spoon standing up with the price of the basket inscribed in the spoon with black felt pen. You just take the spoon out of each basket you want and, when you have made your selections, the spoons add up to what you owe. Then you put your money and the spoons in the “honest box.”
But today Mrs. Yvonne was there in her red apron. She came out of the back room immediately when I drove up. I thought I remembered Judy saying something about this lady having cancer, so I took a risk and said, "I hope you’re cancer is in remission.”
“I don’t have cancer," she said. “You’re Hal, aren’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied. I didn't know she knew me.
“I’m so sorry about your wife. May I tell you a sweet story?’
“Yes, ma’am.” I braced myself.
"The day before my biopsy your wife stopped by here for some fruit and vegetables. When I told her about the lump in my breast, and the pending biopsy, she asked me, ‘May I pray for you?’ Of course I said, ‘yes,’ thinking that she would pray for me tonight or tomorrow. But she bowed her head right here, and said, ‘Father, I pray for Yvonne, that you would give her grace and peace. Father, if it’s your will, I also pray that the biopsy would be negative. Bless and strengthen her family through this, in Jesus’ name, Amen.’”
“She was the sweetest person,” Mrs. Yvonne said, “I’ll never forget her for that, and the Lord answered her prayer.”
“Yes,” I said, choking back what was in my throat, “she was the sweetest person I ever knew. God bless you, Yvonne, goodbye.”
I picked up my cantaloupe and my fresh green beans and butter beans, and headed to my car. As I drove away, I realized that the succulent fruit and vegetables in my car were just physical and temporal, and that the real purpose of my stop at the fruit stand was to taste another and better kind of fruit, eternal and spiritual, planted in love, sown in faith, nurtured in Judy’s life, and harvested by Mrs., Yvonne, and now by me.
“Dear Father, make my life a fruit stand.”