Freddie Barnwell’s stories are always a favorite with everyone, especially when they are about himself. Farmer Barnwell has a wealth of knowledge considering the fact that he has worked his farm for over 50 years now and shows no signs of slowing down.

Most of Farmer Barnwell’s stories have a humorous side to them. The story he told us last week, however, was a little different. His story included a most unusual and intriguing illustration.

Farmer Barnwell got up from his chair under the big shade tree and picked up one of his cats. He picked a few fleas off the cat and placed them in a jar. He held the jar high in the air so everyone could see what he was doing. When he took the lid off the jar, the fleas he had just put in the jar, quickly jumped out of the jar just as everyone expected they would. Little Johnnie Whitson said the fleas were fleeing! Well after the kids stopped giggling, Farmer Barnwell held up another jar, this one already full of fleas. He took the lid off that jar just as he had the first one. The fleas were jumping right to the top of the jar, but to our amazement not one of them jumped out of the jar. When he told us these were his trained fleas, the children’s eyes were as big as the cat’s milk saucer.

Farmer Barnwell said his wife, Jessie, put these fleas in the jar he now holds, earlier in the day. Every time the fleas jumped they would hit against the under side of the lid. You could hear the ping, ping, ping as they continuously hit against the lid. After awhile the fleas adjusted their jumps so as to not hit the lid, coming just short of the lid. Even when you took the lid off the jar, the fleas continued to jump the same height, never jumping out of the jar.

Farmer Barnwell told us the fleas had become conditioned to jump so high and no higher, avoiding hitting the lid as they did when they were first placed in the jar. Everyone was in awe. Freddie Barnwell’s demonstration (and his trained fleas) certainly had our attention! You kind of had the feeling it had the attention of the farm animals also by the way the cows and horses were lined up against the fence looking our way and farmer Barnwell’s dog was sitting straight up next to the kids watching his master’s every move being as quiet as the kids, teens and adults, all of whom were still in a kind of “I saw it, but can hardly believe it” frame of mind.

Farmer Barnwell went on to say that there were not just one but two valuable lessons in what we had just witnessed. The first one is that we need to put our trust in God and ask Him to lead us in our life’s decisions. Lots of times we let others influence us, and we begin to lose confidence in the abilities god has given us to use for His honor and glory. We become entrapped by an invisible glass ceiling limited by what others think, or say about us. We lose the spring in our steps and settle for second best in our lives. Farmer Barnwell said we are to remember what the Bible says in 2nd Timothy 1:7 that God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind to those that love Him and know Him personally, and in Ephesians 3;20 where it says God is able to do much more than we ask or think through His power working in us.

The other lesson is just like the fleas we can avoid a lot of pain and sorrow by adjusting our daily actions and ways of living in accordance with God’s laws. We don’t have to keep hitting our heads against the ceiling, as it were, just like the fleas had been doing before they adjusted their jumps. God’s word and the lessons for Godly living Jesus imparted to us by His life and death will help us along life’s path if we adjust our way of living to that of His.

Jessie Barnwell quoted Proverbs 23:12 – “Apply thine heart until instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge,” and with these words found in the Bible in the book of Judges: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.”

Farmer Barnwell smiled as he said: If a flea can jump 38 times its own body length with acceleration so great they have to withstand 100 Gs or 100 times the force of gravity, and repeat this 30,000 times without tiring, just think what you can do with the Lord on your side especially if you put Him first in all you do!

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Christian Short Stories