William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person

In 1939, (my birth year) Hollywood produced a box office bonanza with the all-time classic movie, GONE WITH THE WIND. It depicted a labor intensive way of life. Of course, in 1939 the nation was only about seventy years away from the Civil War, so, those times were still on the mind of older citizens (much like WWII remains on older minds today). In addition to those times, there are also many things and ways that have fallen to the chapters of history, especially with the vaunted progress of the 20th Century. I write briefly about one of those ways of life: that of the now largely extinct share-cropper.
Well over a half century ago, my pastoral ministry was initiated in the cotton and bean fields of northeast Arkansas. Most folk in the area were known as sharecroppers. Like the aforementioned movie, this, too, is a way of life largely gone with the wind.
Sharecroppers lived in someone else’s house on someone else’s land. In varying agreements, they worked the land for the land owner, and shared a percentage of the crops produced. It was not much of a way to get ahead in life, but it was a way to sustain life. Most of the houses provided were substandard, and largely without indoor plumbing. My wife and I spent one memorable winter night with a family in that environment. To stay warm, we slept under so many quilts that it was virtually impossible to turn over. However, though poor, the people were sweet, kind, and loving. They loved the Lord, and they loved my young wife and me. It was such a joy to be considered their pastor, although a neophyte in every sense of the word.
Years have come and gone, and I am, as they were: a sharecropper. But, the sharecropping presently experienced is being accomplished in an agreement with God, the true land owner. Paul taught in I Cor. 3:9, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” We plant and water, but He gives the increase. It is He who has given to us this laboring ministry of reconciliation, and He teaches us all in Psalm 126:6, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Formerly, due to weather or pestilence, crops might fail, leaving the farming sharecropper in dire straits financially. But one may be sure that sharecropping with God brings a guaranteed successful harvest to the rejoicing of everyone involved. Since all are tenants and not owners, they are sharecropping for someone. But soon the window of time for sharecropping on this terrestrial ball will also pass away. It is but for a season. Consequently, it is so very important to choose wisely with whom you partner in the sharecropping venture of life.

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