Mr. Miller’s Roadside Stand…Life’s Lessons….

James 2:15, 16 “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute
of food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be
warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things
which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”

Mr. Miller’s Roadside Stand:

During the waning years of the depression in a
small southeastern Idaho community, I used to stop by
Mr. Miller’s roadside stand for farm-fresh produce
as the season made it available. Food and money were still
extremely scarce and bartering was used, extensively.

One particular day Mr. Miller was bagging some
early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of
bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a
basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the
display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed
peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn’t
help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller
and the ragged boy next to me.

“Hello Barry, how are you today?”

“H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them
peas……sure look good.”

“They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?”

“Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.”

“Good. Anything I can help you with?”

“No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.”

“Would you like to take some home?”

“No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.”

“Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?”

“All I got’s my prize marble here.”

“Is that right? Let me see it.”

“Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.”

“I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and
I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?”

“Not ‘zackley…..but, almost.”

“Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and
next trip this way let me look at that red marble.”

“Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller.”

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over
to help me. With a smile she said: “There are two other boys
like him in our community, all three are in very poor
circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas,
apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their
red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like
red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for
a green marble or an orange one, perhaps.”

I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with
this man. A short time later I moved to Utah but I never forgot
the story of this man, the boys and their bartering. Several
years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Just
recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho
community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had
died.

They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my
friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival
at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the
deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an
army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and
white shirts…very professional looking.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed,
by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed
her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket.
Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young
man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale
hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and
mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes
glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. “Those three
young men, that just left, were the boys I told you about. They just
told me how they appreciated the things Jim “traded” them. Now, at
last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size…they
came to pay their debt.

We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,” she
confided, “but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man
in Idaho.”

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her
deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny,
red marbles.

“We will not be remembered by our words, but by our life and
kind deeds.”

How will you be remembered?

Mat 20:26b-28 “…but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

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