Heaping Coals Upon Their Heads
“Daddy,” cried Donovan, running in from school, “that Lionel is the meanest boy in the school.”
“What’s the matter with him?” asked Daddy.
“Oh, he’s just terribly mean. He’s always calling me names, and everything I do he says is bad or stupid, and he’s always turning the other boys against me.”
“It surely can’t be as bad as that,” said Daddy.
“Yes, it is,” said Donovan. “And what’s more, I’m not going to stand it any longer. Big as he is, I’m going to fight him tomorrow.”
“Well, that’s interesting, said Daddy, smiling. “I hope you will tell me when it’s going to come off, so I can come along and pick up the pieces.”
“There won’t be any pieces left of him, said Donovan angrily.
“What? Are you going to swallow him afterward?”
“Do you know, said Daddy, “I can tell you how to pay that boy back.”
“Can you?” cried Donovan, all eagerness. “How?”
“Would you like to put some coals of fire on his head?”
“Anything,” said Donovan. “Anything.”
“Well, I’ll get the prescription for you so you can do it.”
So Daddy went into his study and brought out a book. After a little searching he found the place.
“Ah, here it is,” he said. “Listen, Donovan: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap coals upon his head'” (Romans 12:20, R.S.V.)
“Aw,” said Donovan, “that’s no good; I’d rather fight him.”
“But,” said Daddy, “this is much better. If you fight him you can’t hurt him very much, but this way you pour coals of fire on his head. You will burn the meanness out of him.”
“Fine!” said Donovan. “But I don’t like that way of doing it.”
“Why not try it?” said Daddy. “It’s worth trying, anyway.”
“I’ll see,” said Donovan. “I’ll think it over.” Donovan thought it over, and it was not long before something began to happen.
Next morning, on his way to school, whom should he meet but the hated Lionel.
“Just my luck,” Lionel said as he came up to Donovan. “Got up late and missed my breakfast. Suppose you’ve had a big meal.”
“No breakfast!” said Donovan kindly. “You must be starved. Why don’t you eat my lunch right now. Yes, I did have a good breakfast, and I am not a bit hungry, so here, have my lunch.”
Lionel was as surprised as if he had received a blow between the eyes. He looked first at Donovan and then at the lunch. “You don’t mean it,” he said.
“Yes, I do,” said Donovan. “Here, take it.”
“That’s nice of you. Thanks,” said Lionel, taking the lunch and beginning to eat. “But you’ll have some yourself, won’t you?”
Donovan took a sandwich, and they walked on to school together, munching in silence.
“Hot this morning,” said Lionel after they had gone some distance. “Wish I could get a drink from somewhere.”
“A drink?” said Donovan. “Let me see, where can we get one? I’d like one too.”
“Pity we can’t get some lemonade in that store over there,” said Lionel.
Donovan felt in his pocket. “I have three dimes. What about it? Let’s go over.”
“Well, I don’t want to take your money,” said Lionel. “I’ll wait till we get to the playground.”
“Oh, no, come on,” said Donovan. “We’ll have a drink each. Looks good, doesn’t it?”
So they went in, bought a lemonade each, and then hurried on to school.
That evening Daddy was waiting at the gate for Donovan. “Well,” he said, “how did the fight go? I hope you won.”
“I did”, said Donovan with a twinkle in his eye. “I just burned him all up.”
“Whatever do you mean?” asked Daddy.
“Why, I did what you said. I fed him with my lunch, and I gave him a drink of lemonade, and–well, he suddenly changed. He’s been different all day. We’ve been like old friends.”
“Splendid! Well done, Donovan!” said Daddy. “I hope you’ll win all your battles just like that.”
—from Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, Book 5, Story #8, pg. 48
Everybody loves a story! Evenings at my house are time for read-aloud, and my children’s favorite stories have always been Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories. These charming, old-fashioned stories have incredible appeal because they are true! These tales really happened, and they sometimes turn out disastrously! Each story is just a few pages long, so it is easy to sneak one in here and there in a busy schedule.
The five-volume set has a publication date of 1976, and it is actually a collection of the best stories found in the 1964 version, so you know old-fashioned Christian values are alive and well. In addition to the real stories about real children, each book has a story from the Bible. Each book has 192 pages, a glossy picture cover, and wonderful color drawings throughout. The very best thing about these stories is that they speak right to a child’s heart! I read my daughter Louisa the story “Two Carolines,” a story about a little girl who was very pleasant and lovable when out of the house but not very happy to those at home. A day later, Louisa came to me to confess, “I am like that story, Mom.” The best part was that I never said one word! I read the story out loud, then Louisa saw herself in it and strived to correct her own behavior. Ooh, hard to beat that kind of powerful teaching–teaching through parables!
One of the stories my grown children remember best is “The Hollow Pie.” Seems a certain young man always grabbed the biggest piece for himself rather than watching out for others and saying, “You go first.” After a very disappointing dinner, one very sorry boy learned that maybe the biggest isn’t always the best!
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