The Victory Jar

19 08 2018

I’m guessing it would be a safe to say that the majority of baby boomers grew up with parents or grandparents that smoked. It was the norm! Before the Surgeon General warning on cigarette packs that smoking was hazardous to your 20180819_174925 (004)health, nearly half the population of the United States lit up on a regular basis, and my family was no exception. Aunt Pearl and Ma were hard core smokers; I think we had ashtrays in every room of the house. After the evening meal I’d see Pearl smoke up to three cigarettes before getting up to clean the kitchen. But somewhere around 1965 she had a routine medical examine where x-rays showed she had a small spot on one lung. That was enough for her! On the day she received the report she smoked her last cigarette and never touched another one again. She shared the news with her family and I can’t say for sure if it was an incentive for her brother, my Great Uncle Sam, but he quit about the same time; with one difference.

On the day dear old Pearly Mae stopped puffing, she took what cigarettes she had, ran water over them and into the trash they went. Sam wasn’t as forthcoming in his campaign of becoming tobacco free. He quit but knew the effects withdrawal can have on a body and mind. Instead, he bought a new pack of Winston, and placed them in the Mason jar you see. Sam told his family he was done with smoking, “but just in case,” he wanted to have a pack on hand if it got to rough for him. He set the jar on a shelf, stared at it often I’m sure, but never opened it. Time went on and as nicotine lost its hold on Sam I believe temptation to open the jar faded and a victory smile came across his face. I can see him holding the jar, showing it off to others as someone would display a medal or victory trophy. “You see this? It was trying to take my life, but I didn’t let it. I won the battle!”

“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.” Corrie Ten Boom

Both Sam and Pearl recognized that the simple joy they experienced from lighting up was actually a slow-motion death trap that would cause a terrible and painful death. And they said “NO!”  Tobacco addiction was not going to rule over them, they were going to have victory over this cancer-causing demon. The same can be said for their spiritual lives as well. Realizing that no matter what they did physically, they would someday succumb to death. It happens to all of us. Then what? Old Uncle Sam and Aunt Pearl saw nothing they could do would stop the inevitable, except for one thing.

Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

They won again! But not by anything they did, but by accepting what the love of God did for them by sending Jesus to take away their bondage, their cancer and giving them eternal life.

E.W. Kenyon; “This is a Faith Fight. We win our battle by our recognition that it has already been fought and won by Jesus and by accepting the thing that Jesus has done for us. We do not pray for it. We do not struggle for it. We simply look up and say, “Father, the battle has been won” In the Faith fight, God does it all. He conquered Satan and put away sin. He bore our diseases, so that we only need to thank Him and enjoy it.”

Pearly Mae left this world in 1984 and her little brother Sam followed her to heaven ten years later in 94. Both these “Travelers of the Rock Road” left behind small reminders of the victorious lives they led. I have several around the house I look on with pride from time to time. Sam’s oldest granddaughter Karen now displays his victory jar at her beautiful home. We estimated the cigarettes inside to be over 50 years old, still sealed as the day they came from the factory. Being an ex-smoker myself, I can’t help but wonder how fresh they still are. Nope Nope Nope! I’m not tempted. Took 32 years but by golly I did it! But as I held this prized possession handed down from generation to generation, I could almost see Uncle Sam looking at it with his ornery smile and saying, “See, beat ya, didn’t I?!!”

I got a feeling he said that to the devil a few times, too.

See ya next time.





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