In 1950, the small town of Wetumka, Okla. was scammed by a visitor who claimed to be the advance man for a traveling circus. According to reports, the visitor was blessed with a silver tongue and sweet talked the townspeople into preparing for the upcoming visit.
In preparation for the supposed visit, a hotel bought 20 new mattresses for rooms reserved for the performers by the scammer. Another town member made arrangements for a hay shipment to feed the circus elephants. To feed people who would be coming to town to attend the circus, a grocery store owner ordered 100 pounds of hot dogs.
The con man was even granted complimentary room and board while in town. But, after filling his belly and his pockets with the advertising money he’d collected from local merchants, he disappeared.
Of course, the circus never came to town. However, the red-faced townspeople turned the hoax into an opportunity and 67 years later, Sucker Day is still celebrated as a festival with a parade, live music, street vendors, a carnival and competitions. You might say they took lemons and turned them into lemonade.
Could the Apostle Paul be considered a lemon that Jesus turned into lemonade? Before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul (previously known as Saul) was a Pharisee and persecutor of Jesus’ followers.
As Paul relays his conversion story to King Agrippa in Acts 26, he repeats the words of Jesus, “I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
If we’re to be faithful to God’s calling today, we must be witnesses to His glory. I was reminded of this recently when I was helping a neighborhood couple with their garage sale. One of the items for sale was an older film camera with accessories. Stored in a canvas bag, the item was displayed near the checkout point. During the busyness of the sale, the camera disappeared from the bag. It had been stolen.
At first, we were outraged by the theft. Later, we prayed for the Holy Spirit’s conviction and the redemption of this person. Our prayers were not self-righteous, but for the person’s salvation.
God desires for all to be saved. He calls on us to make losing circumstances into winning situations, to take lemons and make lemonade, to see every person as a potential child of God.