Growing up near the Mexican border in 1917, Walter Swan had an exciting life.
It was filled with adventures on his parents’ homestead, which was just south of the mining town of Bisbee, Arizona. He hunted quail and rabbits and raised livestock. One time, he even found a rattlesnake under his bed. During his lifetime, he was a witness to many changes. He saw the mule give way to the Model-T Ford automobile, the airplane fly above the desert floor, and the one-room schoolhouse come to his austere frontier community.
The schoolhouse was a little wood frame building with a potbelly stove. The widowed teacher was very serious when it came to education. She was always ready to administer a spanking with a stick of firewood to any young scholar who failed to obey her instructions. Walter was familiar with the wood-box and her method of education.
Since he was not good at arithmetic, one day the teacher kept him in from recess to work on his long division. He worked during recess, but he could not finish the problems. The teacher looked at his work and said, “Well, Walter, you can take them home. If you get them all correct you can play when recess comes tomorrow. If not, you will have to stay in again.” That night he made a deal with his mother, “Mamma, if you will do my arithmetic, I will do all of the dishes for you.” Surprisingly, she said yes, and by the time the dishes were done, the long division problems were all completed. With a smile of satisfaction, he copied them in his own handwriting and went to bed. Their deceit would be revealed the following day, when Walter was ordered to stay inside during recess.
All of the problems on his paper were wrong. The teacher went over each problem, pointing out each mistake. In reality, Walter could divide, but his mother could not. While trying to help her son, the mother had harmed him by not dividing correctly.
Are you being mislead by someone you trust? Perhaps a loved one or a friend has quoted something from the Bible, when in fact it is not in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:14-19). Have you ever heard these quotes: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” “God helps those who help themselves,” or “Spare the rod and spoil the child?” These sayings are not in the Bible. The first is a quote from a sermon by John Wesley, the second is from Aesop’s Fables, and the third is from a poem by Samuel Butler.
Does this surprise you? Perhaps it is time to open your Bible and read. Read and receive the knowledge (Romans 10:1-4) and the freedom (John 8:27-32) that comes from God. Listen to him, and do not allow anyone (Luke 14:25-27) to separate you from his truth. Christian, are you up for the task?
“Give me the Bible, holy message shining;
Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way;
Precept and promise, law and love combining,
Till night shall vanish in eternal day.” P.J. Owens