Pastor Troy's Column

February 08, 2023

James 5:15-20: The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Back when Hurricane Katrina struck, I was very active in the relief efforts for those who had been transported to Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith. I had many life changing experiences while helping victims of the hurricane. Some were good. Some were extremely bad. But in all of them, one thing stood out for me. Just how great God is.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you a story which happened to me.

While driving home from the Fort one day, extremely tired and extremely cranky (I’d been up for three days straight) I turned a corner by the barracks.

As I turned on the street, I saw two little girls waving a sign. The sign said, "Lemonade. . .25¢."

I was tired, hungry and not in the best of moods, so I drove by. And, when I did, I looked into the rearview mirror and saw the two little girls hang their heads in sorrow. And, suddenly a great feeling of remorse and remembrance came over me.

Pictures of my own youth were replayed in my head. I was six, maybe seven and I had a lot of neighborhood friends. To pass the time during the summers, we spent hours upon hours catching crawdads in the ditch across from our house.

It was a way for us to stay barefoot and cool, and have a little friendly competition by seeing who had the fastest hands and who could catch the most crawdads.

One day, we decided that we could make a little spending money.

We drug our little chairs out of our bedrooms to the neighborhood ditch. I rolled one of my dad's big spools of wire over by the road and spent all morning painting a sign which read, "Crawdaddies. . .5¢ a peece."

We hung the sign over the spool of wire and for two hours, sat and watched car, after car, after car, after car just drive on by.

Nobody wanted to buy crawdads and we couldn't understand why. They were the perfect fishing bait, we reasoned.

After a while, we gave up and splashed back into the ditch.

Then, after we had forgotten all about the sign and were engrossed in looking for that next crawdad, an old beat-up car drove up and stopped.

We looked at the man with blank faces, wondering what he wanted.

It took him two or three tries, but the man finally convinced us that he wanted to buy our crawdads.

And, we could have walked across the water. We felt lighter than air. We were elated, thrilled and, in our eyes, rich beyond our wildest dreams. The man didn't just give us a nickel, he gave us a whole dollar. "See, we told each other, now that's a man who knows how to fish."

For two weeks, we had our little crawdad stand by the roadside. And, for two weeks, our only customer was the man in the beat-up old car. Then, something else captured our attention, and the crawdad stand went back to being a spool of wire and the now beaten-up sign soon became a backboard for our basketball goal.

For twenty years, I never thought about that crawdad stand or the happiness we felt when we saw our only customer drive up. And then, fate brought me across a man who my parents knew. One night, while down at his office, we talked for a while and I learned that he lived just a few streets down from our old house. While trying to recall people we both knew, the man told me about some little boys who had a crawdad stand he used to patronize.

Imagine my shock and surprise to learn that this man was that person who filled us with so much joy as kids. We laughed for a while and I asked him what he did with all of those crawdads he bought.

"Oh, I just let them go back in the ditch up the road," he said. "I just bought them because it made you guys smile."

In our scripture reading James tells us that a righteous man will be made more righteous when he brings a sinner back to God. James tells the story of Elijah who was a man of very few gifts, but one gift that he did have was that of prayer. His gifts were not great, but he offered everything he had to God.

And, God saw this. And, he took Elijah’s prayers and turned them into something bigger than Elijah ever was.

One act of unselfish belief on his part and one miraculous act of compassion by God.

And, all of this went through my mind in a microsecond as I stared in the rearview mirror at the two little girls with their heads lowered in disappointment. And, when I stopped my truck and backed up to them, I have never felt so much joy flow over me as I watched those little girls smile from ear to ear, jump up and down and run to their little lemonade stand. The sign said a quarter, and I gave them a dollar.

I considered it a repayment on a debt I owed to a man who never went fishing with crawdads.

Let’s pray.

Gracious Lord, today we ask that you bring into our lives someone who needs to smile. Someone who may be hurting or sad. And today, we pray that we will be the instrument of your grace in their lives as we remember those who showed grace to us. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.


Pastor Troy is the pastor of DeWitt & St. Charles United Methodist Church. You can read his daily devotionals at their Facebook Page: