Before the Fact*

Mrs. Lois A Calkins knew what the historian meant when he said, “The history of the world is the record of man in quest for his daily bread and butter.” When she was growing up in southern Minnesota with her father very old and feeble, her mother’s health was also poor, and two younger brothers who were not old enough to do too much in the way of farm work, their “quest” was quite difficult. Especially with what happened one early autumn.

cloud of grasshoppers

Clouds of grasshoppers swept down on the entire area and deposited their eggs. A reward was offered for the carcasses of these insects, and many bushels of the grasshoppers were destroyed. But the battle seemed useless. The prospects for the Calkins to have food for the coming year were very, very dark.

“Our family had not been Christians too long before this first real test of faith came to us. We new that when those eggs were hatched in the spring there wasn’t a chance for any garden to grow. And since we were solely dependent on that little garden for our own food and for some income from the sale of vegetables, we were quite concerned.

“We studied the Bible the best we could. We prayed a great deal about the Lord helping us like He did the people of Bible times. We felt that there was no reason why He wouldn’t help us as much today as He did then. So, in our own feeble way, we tried to claim His promises.”

That spring found every inch of ground crawling with the newly hatched insects. Every farmer within a hundred miles’ radius was infested with myriads and myriads of the destructive pests. All hopes for gardens were given up. Some were planning to move off and give up farming.

“My father hired one of the neighbors to come over with his plow and turn over our garden ground. The neighbor thought we were the most foolish people on the face of the earth.

“ ‘You’re throwing your hard-earned money away,’ he repeated over and over again as he plowed our land.

The following day the three children, under the supervision of the father went out into garden to plant seeds.

“We had to push away the insects that had come right back to the newly plowed ground as we planted the seeds. I must say that almost every time I pushed some seed into the dirt, I prayed for the Lord to make them grow.

“The grasshoppers were so strange. When they were fully grown they hopped way up into the air and flapped their wings; it sounded just like hail falling all around us. Then when they were quiet, they would lie in big heaps everywhere, five or six deep.

“All of the farmers around had not planted much. Some none. But those who did plant anything had it immediately chewed to pieces as it first burst out the ground. An occasional stalk of corn could be seen sticking up here and there, but never more than seven or eight inches tall.

“One day our garden seemed to have turned green overnight. Buds had burst the sod all through the area. I ran out and looked at the growing vegetation. Everything everywhere else was eaten almost as fast as it came out of the ground. But our garden seemed like holy ground!”

The Calkins family spent even more time in prayer after the garden started growing than before. Their prayers were a mixture of petition and thanksgiving. Only the grace and mercy of God would allow these crucially needed plants to grow in the midst of devouring insects. And that is exactly what happened!

“It was so weird. All the leaves on the trees in our yard had been consumed. It was spring and they looked like they were in the midst of deep winter, so bare and lifeless. Yet, the garden was so beautifully green and prosperous. Neighbors and folks from miles and miles away started coming by to look at this strange paradise.”

The Calkins’ farm had a bumper crop that year. Though it does not seem like a gigantic amount in comparison with crops being produced through mechanical assistance, it was overwhelming to them.

“We harvested fifty bushels of beets from a very small patch. There were eighty-three very large squashes that came from just three vines! Everything we planted came up in abnormally large quantities and of the highest quality. The crop was large but excellent.”

The Calkins filled their cellar with the finest vegetables they had ever seen. Neighbors who had been able to set aside some money came to the Calkins to buy produce. They gave a large amount to friends and neighbors who, like themselves, had not been able to save any money for any type of crisis.

“When folks came to our place to get their produce, they would all say that Someone was surely looking after us. Others went so far as to say that it was definitely a miracle. But, one particular neighbor put his finger right on the reason and cause.

“ ‘Calkins,’ he said to my dad, ‘I heard a minister once say that God would “rebuke the devourer” for believing folks. Most of the church folks ‘round about these parts feel that this is what has happened. I guess you folks are paying God the tithe.”

“My dad stood to his feet and looked the friend right in the eye.

“ ‘Do you know where the Bible says that if a person pays the tithe God’ll do that . . . “rebuke the devourer” . . . like you said?’

“ ‘I think it’s in Malachi, but I’m not sure,’ he said as he made his way to the door, picking up a basket of vegetables on the way, ‘Yeah, I’m sure it’s in Malachi.’

“Needless to say, it wasn’t long after the farmer had left the house that my dad was thumbing through his Bible for the book for Malachi.”Praying hands

“ ‘I’ve found it! Come here and listen to this,’ he said as he waved us all together around the kitchen table. ‘It’s Malachi 3: 10–12. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse . . . and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts . . . I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground . . . . And all nations shall call you blessed.’ ”

“We had another prayer meeting, right then and there. We thanked God for His promise that we had just read. ‘And just think,’ dad said, ‘He did all this even before we knew that He had already promised to do it!’ ”


(*This story is taken from: W.A. Spicer and Helen Spicer Menkel, The Hand That Still Intervenes, Concerned Publications, Clermont, FL, Copyright ©1982)