By GERALD HALLMARK
Have you ever tried to pick out a ripe watermelon?
On the surface this doesn’t seem like much of a chore, but success or failure can have social consequences. After all, every Southerner is supposed to have an innate instinct about such matters.
I recently decided to purchase one of these delicacies and knew I would have to use all the techniques I’d ever learned. You know what I am talking about — those special tricks that are handed down from one generation to the next.
The first move I made on that big boy was to thump it a couple of times.
As I was standing there thumping it, the manager of the store came over and asked if I were buying a melon or sending Morse code to the fruit department. That’s all I needed. A thousand comics out of work and I get a standup comedy act in the produce section.
Not getting angry, I simply explained the fine art of watermelon testing. He assured me his great grandmother on his father’s side of the family had a sure-fire way of detecting the perfect melon.
According to this ancient sage you were supposed to pick the melon up and smell it. It was all I could do to keep from laughing at this superstitious nonsense and hurting the man’s feelings.
In the ensuing debate that broke out, a lady intervened and told us we were both wrong. She swore on her aunt’s grave that watermelons could be judged by the condition of their remaining stem. Neither the manager nor I fell for that bit of wisdom.
I just kept on thumping.
Now we had three of us in a heated discussion on the merits of ripe fruit, selection techniques and each other’s heritages.
Wouldn’t you just know it? Another man walks up and starts haranguing us for our lack of true understanding. According to the testimony of this newly uninvited expert you had to feel the weight of the melon because his grandmother had always tested her’s that way. So he gets the thing and starts hefting it over his head like an Olympic weight lifter.
All of this discussion started over the inside quality of a watermelon.
All of us could see the condition of the outside of the melon. It looked healthy, green and solid and appeared to be a good piece of fruit. However, none of us could see on the inside of that now-center of controversy.
Think for a minute about what God does by not looking on the outward appearance but looking on the heart. There are a lot of folks who look good on the outside but have the ugliness of sin in their souls.
As mortals we can never tell the difference, but God can and does.
One day we will stand before Him and all the secrets of our hearts will be revealed. There won’t be any veneer of goodness to hide behind because He will see us as we really exist, and His techniques will be flawless and just.
By the way, the melon wasn’t ripe. The next guy who came along decided shaking it was the acceptable way of determination. It might have been, but we never found out because he dropped the thing in the floor.
You know, that thing looked good and sounded ripe, but it wasn’t. It sure fooled me!
Dr. Gerald Hallmark is a retired minister living in Alexander City. His column appears here each Friday.