THANKSGIVING: True riches

Tags: Judy Bates

DORA, Ala. (BP) -- Years ago I spent part of a high school summer with my friend Lynn and her family in Indiana. Her father, Bro. Driskill, was pastor of a small church, and on my first Sunday there, a family from the church invited us to lunch at their home.

As we loaded into the car, Bro. Driskill turned to me and said, "There may not be a lot on the table, so eat small portions and, if you're still hungry when we leave, you can make a sandwich at our house."

We followed the Benton family's pickup truck out a dirt rut road and into the yard of an unpainted weathered old farmhouse. The yard was hard-packed earth, swept as clean as a whistle, with not a smidgeon of grass or weeds growing on it. A pair of gray-with-age rockers graced the narrow covered porch that spanned the front of the house. Cracked and chipped pottery brimmed with a brilliant array of petunias on either side of the short set of steps up to the porch.

Through the open wood-framed windows, threadbare red and white checked curtains, faded more to pink than red, stirred slightly in the breeze, too crisp with starch to do a great deal of flapping. Clearly the lady of the house had spent Saturday washing, ironing and scrubbing everything from curtains to her boys' and husband's overalls.

Inside, shafts of sunlight shot through the sparkling clear glass, casting long narrow beams across the floorboards. The simple plank table was covered with a spotlessly clean ancient tablecloth, wrinkle-free but patched in sundry places. The rough-hewn benches rested on a floor of wide unfinished boards.

As most of their children and we guests took our seats, Mrs. Benton brought in a humongous bowl of butter beans and proudly placed them in the center of the table. Mr. Benton followed with a folded dishcloth and a gigantic skillet of cornbread. The two oldest children came last, one bearing a plate of sliced tomatoes and onions; another with a large pitcher of water.

As Bro. Driskill bowed his head to ask the blessing, hands reached out around the table, forming a circle of warmth, love and togetherness. We laughed and talked and feasted like royalty, basking in the pure joy of this beautiful family so rich in everything that mattered.

Most people passing the Benton place would have looked at it and said, "Can you imagine the poor people who live there." Me, I didn't have to imagine. I'd met them. Been there. And knew that they were wealthy beyond what most folks ever dream.

We humans, made in the image of our Holy Creator, are meant for so much more than chasing the temporal.

Struggling financially is certainly no picnic, but the Bible makes it clear that money or any of the things of this world are not going to satisfy the inner need that can only be filled through a life dedicated to serving the Lord Jesus. As the writer of Ecclesiastes learned, "I … amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces… I did not refuse myself any pleasure… I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind" (Ecclesiastes 2:8,10,11 HCSB).

Judy Woodward Bates is a speaker, TV personality and author of "Bargainomics: Money Management by the Book," on the Web at www.Bargainomics.com.
Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP).
Download Story