Decades later, questions remain, but God’s grace is unquestionable

Posted By | May 4, 2017 7:18 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl        

My two-and-a-half years older than me brother came to me one day with an evil secret. We were behind the barn, and no one was around. Reaching into his pocket, he produced an almost empty pack of Kool cigarettes. Then he stuffed them back into his pocket and started talking.

“Wanta go down in the woods and smoke?” he asked, with a nervous smile and persuasive gesture toward the woods behind our house.

As a young boy, I had already heard about the evils of tobacco. Daddy smoked a pipe. He didn’t inhale, but the pipe tobacco was very strong, and the smoke bit his tongue. Riding home from visiting kin on Sunday afternoons, I hated riding in the back seat behind him, because he would spit out the window when he bit his pipe stem, and the smoke bit him back. His spitting habit was almost as bad as if he had been a tobacco chewer instead of a pipe puffer.

With all that and more running through my mind, I should have said, “No indeed I’m not smoking those nasty things! I’m telling Mother on you.” Then I should have run to the house screaming for my mother or grandmother to protect me, so I could live long enough to tattle.

Instead, sucked in by temptation, I took a step toward the enticing offer.

“Where in the world did you get them thangs?” I drawled, straining to sound indifferent.

“I found ‘em. They was just layin’ there on the sidewalk. Somebody musta dropped ‘em. Nobody was lookin’ so I picked ‘em up…come on let’s try ‘em.”

Well, my conscience bothered me, but the cigarettes were Kool and I wanted to be cool, too, so I joined him and went down the wrong path.

When we got to the creek, an unnamed stream that my   grandmother referred to as “The Branch,” we ducked under the washed out bridge. A road used to cross the little stream there. He struck a match and showed me how to “light up.” It was pretty obvious he had been practicing!

Bell, our jenny-mule, was there, too. With Bell watching   me commit such a sin, I really felt guilty. I suppose I was afraid God would give her the ability to speak, like He did with Balaam’s donkey, and she would tell on me for being so bad. Still, my guilty conscience failed to snuff out the craving, so we repeated our transgression, once or twice, over the next couple of years.

I always wondered why my brother only found  Kools…never Camels, Lucky Strikes or Chesterfields. The fact that they were mentholated with a cork tip – that was before filters – made them quite mild, so I never complained. Secretly, I speculated that he got them from the machine at the Town House Hotel, near Playl Electric. I figured he smoked half the pack then said he had found them where someone lost them.

Decades after the fact…years after a cigarette touched my lips…I made a connection, in my mind, between those “cancer sticks” and the Kools our piano teacher, Mrs. Taliaffero smoked. Hmmm…is it possible that he actually stole some of her Kools, or maybe she sent him to a cigarette machine to buy her a pack of Kools, and he bought two – one for her and one for us?

Whether he stole, lied and smoked…or just lied and   smoked…is not my concern; I am responsible for MY actions. I should have resisted temptation and run the other way.

To be honest, I have done much worse things throughout my life. Thankfully, God is a forgiving God. I have prayed for His grace and forgiveness more times than I can count.

John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

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