It was time for new linoleum rugs in the Steenson household. I think it was a family tradition every five years or so. Anyway, it was an exciting time for a seven-year-old boy in the fifties. In addition, half the kids in the neighborhood would come out to watch. The twin girls, Lynn and Lane McCurley from down the street could see me flex my muscles as I helped my older brothers and daddy tote that barge and lift that bale.
Okay, back to the rugs–in the 1950’s linoleum rugs came in rolls 12’ x 12’ and we always bought them in the summer and unrolled them in the front yard in the sunshine so the folds and humps would come out before we put them down. Being so young and small, I wasn’t much help except to move little things out of the rooms so we could remove the old rugs.
We had cleared all the furniture out of the bedroom where my sisters Billie Joyce and Betty Faye slept–Daddy and my four older brothers were taking a break before we pulled up the old rug—those rugs were always stuck to the floor after a few years of traffic and no one was looking forward to the task. I was going to show them how strong I was; so I would pull that old sticky rug up all by my big self. I grabbed the back corner and gave it a tug and to my surprise, it came right up and I fell over backwards. However, that’s not the end of the story. Underneath the corner of that old rug was Blackbeard’s Treasure, nickels, dimes, quarters, and even a brand new half dollar.
I grabbed it all up as fast as I could and ran for the back door hoping no one had seen me take the loot. This had to be the find of the century and I was not about to share it with anyone, period. My little loot filled mind was working overtime as I headed for Sam’s Superette because I was going to buy everything in that corner grocery store. Sam, or Mr. Superette as I called him, was going to be a rich man.
I bought cookies and candy and four sixteen-ounce Royal Crown colas. I even bought a snap together balsa wood state-of-the-art wooden airplane. I spent it all except for forty-seven cents. What could I buy for forty-seven cents—then I saw it, a ten-ounce can of pure Hershey’s Chocolate. I couldn’t resist it and counting tax it would be exactly forty-seven cents. I spent every penny.
Afterward, I made tracks for our gang’s tree house tree and hid my stash before anyone knew I was gone, but I had to take something back home with me, but what would it be. I know, the Hershey’s Chocolate, I could open it and sip on it during the rest of the day while we worked. I crept into the kitchen, got a can opener and opened the can, took a couple sweet gulps and hid it outside under the back steps—now back to work.
Billie and Betty pulled up in the driveway, got out of the car and came into the house along with mother. The first thing out of Billie’s mouth was, “Where is our money, what happened to the money that was under the rug? we were saving it for the fair.” Everyone gave the same answer, “What money?” that is except for me. I had my head down and my eyes glued to the floor. She knew her money had been there and she knew someone was lying.
I had to get rid of the evidence but it was two hours later before I was able to get back to the Hershey’s can. I finally slipped out the back door, slid under the steps, grabbed the can, tilted it to my lips, took two or three huge gulps to get it all down then pulled the empty can back in chocolate approval. There to my horror, covering the can was hundreds of ants—inside and outside of the can. I had just swallowed hundreds of chocolate covered ants. I dashed toward the kitchen to confess my dilemma to my mama when I ran into my sister Billie Joyce. She was about to administer a hands on lie-detector test about her money but instead she stared at me in awe and said, “Hal, what in the world is all over your face? There are ants crawling all over your face and it looks like it’s covered in mud. What have you been doing boy and where is my money?” There I stood drooling chocolate that was purchased with stolen money while bugs crawled in and out of my mouth. What could I do? I did the only thing a seven-year-old boy could do. I lied, I said I didn’t take it and I ran like the wind.
That was fifty-three years ago and I find that some days I still have chocolate on my face when God catches me coming in through the backdoor of life. The dark chocolate of ungodly behavior that doesn’t belong in a man of God’s life is often accompanied by the ants of sin that sting us severely because we have left ourselves exposed to the elements of the enemy’s influence. Whenever we try to sneak in through the backdoor after drinking stolen delicacies, God will meet us and ask, “What is that all over your face?” If there is one lesson I’ve learned in my Christian walk; it is When God asks us a question, He is not looking for information. He already knows the answer. What He wants us to do is just fess up and ask forgiveness.
That experience took care of my craving for chocolate. In fact, even now, I often think of ants whenever I eat it, however; it took me much longer to get a grasp on the lying thing. My sister Billie wasn’t sure if I was lying to her or not, but have you ever considered that it is impossible to lie to an all-knowing God. Have you ever considered that when you try to lie to God, all you’re actually doing is lying to yourself?
So the next time you’re standing there with chocolate on your face and ants crawling on lying lips, just be honest with God. He will forgive you and with the washing of the water of His Word, clean off all the chocolate and the ants with a loving touch.
1 John 1:9 KJV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.