As a paper boy I had collected $18.00 from my paper route and put my $1.80 tithe in my secret pocket. (I have always wondered why it was called a secret pocket, because I knew exactly where it was.)
The day after the conclusion of collecting was the Saturday shopping day in my home town. So I thought I would help my parents out by buying my school clothes for the coming year. My first purchase was three pairs of blue jeans. Then bought two shirts at another store. My money was growing scared as I walked in front of the local department store where I saw a beautiful blue shirt with white poke-a-dots.
The price at the base of the shirt advised me that I didn’t have enough to buy it….unless I went to the secret pocket. I went on for about a block then turned back to take a second look. As I turned to leave again, my feet seemed to head into the store and I did what I knew was wrong. Yes, a blue poke-a- dotted shirt went with me after taking 23 cents of God’s money out of my SECRET pocket.
The next day, I entered Sunday school with that new shirt and a pair of the jeans I had purchased. My guilt was surfacing as I immediately asked Mom Lane, my Sunday school teacher; “God doesn’t care if I use some of His money to get what I wanted. Does He?”
After more than 57 years I can still hear her reply, “Yes sir, He does care! Before this day is over something will happen to than shirt.” Well, I didn’t know she was also a prophetess. Mom Lane was three-fourth Indian and she was very versed in the Bible and truly believed it all. Besides she was our preacher’s wife and we felt she was as close to God as he was. So I always listened to her every word.
She invited all of her class to her house for an after church dinner. We boys headed for the field and a little creek grabbing all the little fish we could. Our shoes were wet, as were our jeans, when she rang the bell on her back porch.
We all began to run, when one of the fellows said “it is closer to the house if we go through the field.” That field was fenced in with barbed wire and we had to go through it twice before getting to her house. Do I have to tell you what happened to the back of a blue Poke-a-dotted shirt?
From that day on, I never took anything I knew was God’s. I was 13 on that day and I did not become a Christian until I was 17. But, I tithed four years before my salvation, because my Sunday school teacher instilled in me that everything was created by God for our betterment as we trust Him.
I believed it because I believed what she believed. Born in a log sharecroppers house with very little hope for a life beyond that area, I learned there was a better life and craved for it. I honestly believe that what she taught me as a lad has caused me to do things, and go places I would not have been given the opportunity. Since those days, I have published more than 750 articles in various forms and conducted over 1100 seminars in 48 states and 35 foreign countries and have been widely used as a Christian education consultant, workshop leader, or minister, by 68 denominations in churches of all sizes.
My convictions for a better life came from this precious lady. I am convinced what we are, and how we teach, does influence lives. Mom Lane still continues to teach me.
“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Where in shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Where in have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” – Malachi 3:7-10.