I’ll never forget the terror I felt as a child when I heard adults talk about “mad dogs.” Certain times of the year, especially summertime, as children we would be told, “You be careful outside! There might be a “mad dog” out there. He will bite you!” If you don’t know what a “mad dog” is, it’s a dog that has rabies. During my growing up years in North Carolina, people let their dogs run wild and didn’t have them vaccinated. That word, “mad dog” conjured up fear in the hearts of every child throughout the south.
Back in those days, children could be found playing in the woods, in the neighbor’s backyard, and I often played on the red hills and gullies with my little friends behind the church. There were no computers, iPads, cellphones, etc…just plan old ingenuity and imagination. We played cowboys and Indians and rode brooms for horses. If we weren’t riding out bicycles ’round and ’round the church, we could be found sliding down the red hills and into the gullies behind the church. Sometimes we would slip off and ride on the paved road in front of the church. Wow! What a thrill! What a good time we had. And we always managed to get into some kind of mischief…from terrorizing the neighbor’s watermelon patch, lighting up an illicit smoke of “rabbit tobacco,” or chewing pine needles to cover the smell of smoke on our breath. I, along with the neighborhood young’uns, would roll up notebook paper and try to smoke “rabbit tobacco” just like all other country kids in North Carolina. During that time in the south, many children could be found behind the woodshed or barn smoking “rabbit tobacco.” I never truly succeeded in getting it done successfully. The paper would catch on fire and almost burn my face and hair. It’s a miracle we didn’t burn ourselves and the woods behind Wilson Grove Baptist Church. The neighborhood boys introduced me to Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (rabbit tobacco.) Since I was the pastor’s daughter and had no brothers at that time, I had never heard of such a thing. Momma and Daddy saw to it that my life was sheltered.
As the hot, sultry dog days of summer turn to fall here in North Carolina, the dried leaves of the mysterious plant, “rabbit tobacco,” can be found growing plentiful in rural areas all over the south. Believe it or not, it truly has medicinal purposes…it will open up a sinus in a heartbeat. Native Americans used it for many things…asthma, mumps, vomiting, arthritis, and I could go on and on.
The infamous watermelon patch…now that’s another thing. We got adventurous one day and decided to burst all of the neighbor’s watermelons. Unbeknown to me, one half of the watermelons in that garden belonged to my father. Watermelon juice was flowing freely that day, and I have to tell you..it caused a major bruhaha. The trial began. I was called in for questioning in the living room of the parsonage. My daddy was the sheriff, the judge, the jury and the executioner. Punishment followed immediately with no hesitation!!! I was given a whipping with a hickory switch that he gathered from a bush in the front yard, and as far as I know those other kids were never punished. All that was important was that I paid for the consequences of my sin.
Today, I’m thankful for Godly parents who loved me, disciplined me, and led me to a personal relationship with Jesus as a young girl. They taught me how to love just like Jesus loved, and most importantly they taught me about forgiveness.
Julius and Pauline Digh – My Precious Momma and Daddy
You can surmise from this post that I was a mischievous little girl. Had it not been for their strong discipline and God’s tender mercies and protection, there is no telling where I would be today. They were always there for me and punished me with love and forgiveness. I learned that disobedience and sin brings about punishment, and they believed in delivering it swiftly with no questions asked…always with love.
As believers, we are faced with many frightening things. They are not always rabid dogs and temptations to smoke rabbit tobacco or to terrorize a watermelon patch. Satan comes in many forms. That’s why the disciple who denied our Lord, Simon Peter, tells us in 1 Peter 5:8…Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. If Satan can’t have your soul, he will try to destroy and devour your testimony. I am reminded of these word also found in 1 Peter 2:24…Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Because of the sacrificial death of Jesus…we can LIVE!
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!