The Ninth Day of August

“The Ninth Day of August

It was the ninth day of August.  My Dad could not remember the exact year, only that it was before 1953 – the year that he graduated from high school.  But the day and the month have been etched in his memory for a long time.  Dad recounted the events of that difficult day to the Wednesday morning Bible class yesterday, which was also his 89th birthday.

Dad’s Dad was a cotton farmer in West Texas.  For those familiar with the dry climate of West Texas, growing anything on a farm out there can be challenging.  Farming was and is a difficult way of life.  My Dad said that his father would borrow money every year to make it through the growing season.  Then when the cotton was harvested, ginned, and sold, he would be able to pay his debts.  The family’s financial well-being was dependent upon the cotton crop.

That’s what made the ninth day of August of that particular year so terribly memorable.  It was the day a hailstorm came through the area.  It completely destroyed my Dad’s family’s cotton crop.  No crop, no harvest.  No harvest, no money.  Debts and the support of a family did not cease.

So how did they make it through this difficult time?  Dad explained that his Dad and Mom went daily to a nearby farm that was not affected by the hailstorm and picked cotton.  Dad said that when he and his siblings got home from school, they would join their parents in picking cotton until the sun went down.  The pay they received for picking cotton sustained them during those difficult days.

I don’t remember ever hearing this account from my Dad before yesterday.  I’m glad he shared it with us.  It informs me more about my Dad, his parents, and his siblings.  Life experiences help shape our identity; they also reveal our mettle.*  My grandparents (Frank & Allie Sargent; I called them Papaw and Mamaw), my Dad (Glenn Sargent), and his siblings (Jean and Jimmy) did what needed to be done.  That’s real “mettle” – the kind that endures the most difficult of days – accompanied by love for one another and a deep faith in God.  That’s the kind of “mettle” that I want to be found in me.  How about you?

But no amount of “mettle” can save us from our sins.  Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and place us on the path to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).  In our sins, we are lost and doomed.

But then God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).  Jesus, demonstrating the greatest “mettle,” willingly gave His life for us so that we can be saved (John 10:17-18).

God will save us and give us eternal life if we will place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse us from sin as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

It will require some “mettle” in us to continue to follow Jesus through the trials of this life, but knowing that God has provided our salvation in Jesus gives us the encouragement to keep on living for Him.  The ultimate harvest is yet to come.

— David A. Sargent

* “Mettle” is defined as “vigor of strength and temperament” and “staying quality, stamina” according to Merriam-Webster.

TEXT version: