Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FEAST (07/12/18)
TITLE: COME AND DINE
By Mariane Holbrook
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So, when Daddy walked down the aisle of the Milltown Baptist Church in 1928 to give his heart to Jesus, he made a promise to tithe ten percent of every paycheck to the Lord. His job as pipefitter at the Lehigh Valley Railroad paid only minimum wages which wasn't much to raise his five kids on, so he wrote the promise in his Bible which, to him, was the same as pounding it in concrete.
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit the village of Milltown hard, which is to say people lost their jobs left and right. Daddy was laid off three times so Mother learned how to add not just a cup of water to make the soup go further but how to add a quart of water to the mix! We ate enough tomato dumplings and potato soup to sink the Lusitania but at least we didn't starve.
The day came when there was no money to pay for anything, let alone tithe, so Daddy made a second promise with God; he would give God half of everything in Daddy's garden as soon as the vegetables were ripe enough to pick. He didn't write that promise in his Bible but he meant it just the same.
So, Daddy took a roll of twine and made a line straight through the middle of his garden. Everything on the right half would go to the pastor as tithe and whatever was on the left would feed our family.
Every evening after work, Daddy rushed to his garden. We younger ones weren't allowed to weed, lest we pull up a carrot or radish by mistake, so we watered instead. Truth be told, we spent much more time watering God's side than Daddy's.
The neighbors watched Daddy tend his garden and teased him about his tithe promise. But Daddy laughed it off and kept right on hoeing.
But one afternoon, as Daddy inspected his garden, his heart sank. The family's side of the garden was starting to look puny. He hurried over to the Lord's side but thankfully, it was growing like a picture in Farmer's Almanac. Back and forth he ran to compare them but there was no mistaking; our family's side of the garden was wilting and looking pathetic.
He watered and hoed and prayed but it was like his side had just given up the ghost.
Thalbert Miller, our next door neighbor, insisted that Daddy forget his tithe promise to the Lord. Daddy had a family to feed, Albert reasoned, and God would surely understand. But Daddy wouldn't break his promises, nosiree, and he kept right on working.
When the carrots, cucumbers and squash began ripening in the church's garden, Daddy walked the two miles to the parsonage every few days and presented them proudly to the pastor's wife as tithe. Mother was still using last year's canned vegetables, stored in our cool, dirt-floored cellar, so we weren't starving. At least, not yet.
But as the summer progressed, our family's side of the garden lay dead and dormant.
After Mother had used the last jar of canned green beans and succotash, Daddy assured us at the supper table that God would not let us go hungry. Daddy had kept his promise to tithe and God would provide, though when pressed for "how," Daddy didn't have a clue.
The next morning when Daddy opened the front door to go to work, he let out a howl and yelled, "Praise the Lord! I knew it! I knew God would somehow provide."
During the night, our neighbors and friends had silently piled boxes and bags of fresh vegetables from their gardens onto our front porch, way more than our entire garden had ever produced.
That evening, to celebrate, all the neighbors set up tables in our back yard and brought over enough casseroles, plates of fresh vegetables, meatloaf and desserts to feed an Army batallion. Never had I seen such a spread! Daddy prayed God's blessing over everyone who had contributed to our "Feast of Tithing," then he led the large group in singing the old Methodist hymn:
Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, "Come and dine."
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