THE NICKEL INCIDENT
By DANNY MINTON
To whoever was walking down an alley near Oleander street in Dallas and found the sack with a nickel in it, I’d like to tell you how it happened to be there. It was put there one summer around 1953. My brother was 3, and I was 5. These were the days that you let your kids walk to the store and never worried about their safety. Well, one summer afternoon Gary and I made our way to the Rexall Drugstore which was out the back gate, a quick left in the alley for a little way and another right through the side alley next to the drugstore. We made our purchase and retraced our steps back home.
It was then that the crime unfolded. As my 5-year-old mind remembers, I was playing in the living room (I don’t think we had TV back then) when I saw Gary pushing something under a floor lamp. Curious as to what was going on, I went over, lifted the lamp, and discovered a half-eaten package of Lifesavers. “Mom,” I loudly exclaimed, “where did Gary get the Lifesavers?” My mother came in and quickly surmised that her little 3-year-old was a thief. He obviously had pocketed the Lifesavers while I was paying for the other purchase at the drugstore.
At that point, my mother went to her purse, retrieved a nickel, and told me to go back to the store and pay for the Lifesavers. What happened to my brother after I left has remained his and my mother’s secret to this day. Anyway, as I proceeded out the back gate and turned left in the alley, my 5-year-old mind began to work overtime. I began to picture my little brother getting in trouble. I could see the police coming to the house, handcuffing him and taking him to jail. As my walk continued, it distressed me more and more. I turned right up along the side alley, and the thoughts became so stressful I found myself having to make a decision that a 5-year-old from time to time must make. Do I go to the store and risk sending my little brother to jail or take other drastic action?
I chose the later. I looked around in the alley and spotted a brown paper sack flattened by the trucks that would come down the pathway. I bent down, opened the sack, and slipped the nickel inside. The store did not get paid and may have suffered from not having that nickel. But I know I did the right thing keeping my brother out of jail!
Have you ever been so stressed out that you found yourself in a dilemma of what to do? I believe we all are at one time or another. We become anxious and worry about things that may or may not happen. We sometimes become so distraught that we make ourselves sick. In the garden, Jesus was in so much stress that it says that he had sweat like drops of blood. But he knew how to get over it. He left it all in God’s hands. “If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may YOUR WILL be done.” The easiest way to overcome our fears is to allow God to take over in our lives. Only when he is in control can we find true inner peace. The key is simply remembering the thoughts that David once penned, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Oh, by the way, I feel better about it now and do not feel my brother will go to jail, so if you don’t mind, and you happen to have found a nickel in a sack near Oleander Street in Dallas, please give the nickel to the nearest Rexall Drugstore (If they still exist) for me.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ