The Devil's Scarecrow
“Daddy! Daddy! Come quick! They’re breaking the back yard!” Behind their shouts and excited voices I could hear the sound of machinery – in the back yard! My children were city kids and my wife and I were city folk – living on the outer edge of a small town in rural Mississippi. [Our first pastorate).
“Every year we plow up this hear field for the preacher and his family so they can have a vegetable garden. You know, fresh vegetables, canning food and all that!”
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He and some of the men of the church plowed the “back yard” (city word for “field”) three or four times that week. The following Saturday the men dropped by again and gave us seeds, all kinds of seeds, to be sown in the new, soon-to-be “preacher” garden.
“A foot apart and two inches deep,” says he. And we did just that. The children pulled out their trusty school rulers and measured depth and distance, depth and distance, over and over again. (It was a horrible first time experience for this city boy – and the city boy’s children weren’t jumping up and down about the depth and distance, depth and distance thing either!)
It really didn’t take too, too long to do the depth and distance thing (yipes!). Suddenly, crops were coming up, everywhere. It also really didn’t take too, too long, I might add, for the weeds to start coming up too, everywhere, and I mean everywhere and I mean the weeds kept a coming, and the weeds kept a coming…..you get the idea!
I think the word on the street was that the preacher’s garden “got a way from ‘em, yes sir, the preacher’s garden done got away from him.”
Seemed everybody knew that the preacher’s garden “got a way from ‘em” but – me – the preacher and the preacher’s family. I knew we had an ugly garden overrun with weeds, but, goodness you should have seen the size of the okra, and the giant bell peppers, and the squash – especially the yellow squash. Our squash was so big and large –they looked like flying saucers. We thought for sure that we would win some kind of award or something….but, I’m getting carried away and you probably already know that we didn’t win any award, no sir, not a one!
But, we did gain the attention of some black birds. Bunches of ‘em would line up on the telephone wires that passed through our garden. They seemed to be talking things over and would swoop down into the corn patch (which grew “perfect” corn on the cob). Whenever we went into the house they would stop their talking and swoop down into the corn patch, having a jolly time – at our expense.
We solved that problem, yes sir, we did and right quickly. We may have had the ugliest garden in the county but we had the best looking scarecrow ever.
When the black birds saw that scarecrow you could almost hear ‘em talking: “Who in the world is that scary looking guy?” “He looks mean,” I think I heard one black bird say, “and we better not go into that garden any more.” And, they didn’t – which brings me to the Devil’s scarecrow.
In that garden was a blessing for those black birds – a field of delicious corn – but, they allowed a harmless, helpless scarecrow keep them from that blessing. I reckon (that’s a country folk word, reckon) I reckon that the Devil’s got his scarecrows too. Know this, “God has not given us a spirit of fear!” And, you probably already know who has – the Devil and his scarecrows.
What is it that keeps you awake at night worrying? The Devil and one of his scarecrows! As long as he can create fear and anxiety – well, step beyond your fear – and look, there, just beyond the Scarecrow’s shadow, thrtr just might be a patch of blessing – just for you! Enough said!
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John Dee Jeffries
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