How Many Hickory Nuts Do You Think Were in My Yard?

This past weekend I finally got around to doing some much needed fall yard work: raking leaves, cleaning up the garden, pressure washing the front porch, and giving the yard a (hopefully) final mowing. Our side yard lies beneath a hickory tree that drops huge hickory nuts, and I don’t like running my mower over them. So I told the kids (and their back-yard neighbor friend) that I would give them a nickel for every hickory nut they picked up. I’ve never tried to pick up the hickory nuts before, but it was a pretty day, I was in a mood to mow without the nuts ruining my mower blades, and I thought it’d be a good way to teach the kids incentivized hard work. And was it ever!

How many hickory nuts do you think were in my yard? I was thinking, maybe 100 or 200 – do the math, 20 for $1.00, 100 for $5.00, etc. The “Yard” category in my budget could handle $10 or so. The kids got to work, filling Walmart bags with hickory nuts (I should have gotten nervous when I saw my daughter go to my shop looking for old laundry detergent buckets). They called me over about an hour later, with 5 buckets filled with hickory nuts for me to count. At final count, my four older children and neighborhood friend had picked up….. 800 hickory nuts! $40!! I couldn’t believe that there that many nuts in my yard, or that they had actually picked them all up, and the “Yard” category was screaming at me at every nut over 300.  The kids were delighted, of course. And my yard is free of hickory nuts – at least for this week!

As a preacher, I see all sorts of sermon illustrations in this story. I used it Sunday night to illustrate the opposite of the way Jesus chose Judas to be His disciple, and the way God orchestrated Judas’ betrayal – He is never surprised, caught off guard, as I was Saturday afternoon. But feel free to use your imagination to turn it in whatever direction it might go.


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