Dr. Marc Drake, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Sun Lakes
Years ago, my wife and I drove through the small town of Enterprise, Alabama – not exactly a vacation destination for most people. But there is an attraction there you won’t see anywhere else in the world. In the town square there is a 13-foot-high classic marble statue that looks more like something you would see in Rome, Italy, than in rural Alabama. On the base of this statue are the astonishing words: “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the Herald of Prosperity.” What? How could the boll weevil ever be the herald of prosperity, especially in an area that had made its living entirely from growing cotton for 200 years? After all, boll weevils are especially fond of cotton and can strip a field bare in a few days. So why a memorial to an insect?
The answer to that question takes us back to the early 1900s when the boll weevil invaded the community and threatened to bring utter ruin. In fact, historians tell us that other than the Civil War, nothing devastated the South like the boll weevil. As it turns out, the farmers in Alabama were forced to switch from cotton to peanuts and other crops just to survive. But the change eventually brought them greater profit than they would have ever made with cotton. By 1917, Coffee County harvested and produced more peanuts than any other county in the nation, and Enterprise became known as the peanut capital of the world! Ultimately, that which had seemed a disaster became the basis for undreamed prosperity. And that’s when the grateful people of Enterprise decided to do something unique. To show their appreciation, they put up a monument in the middle of town – dedicating it to the boll weevil in 1919. And to this day, that monument stands. In fact, while visiting there, I saw a t-shirt in one of the shops that said, “Fear No Weevil.”
The reality is that we all have “boll-weevil” type experiences – unexpected developments that bring heartache and uncertainty to our lives. But trials can bump us out of our old ways and force us to live on a new level. Tragedy can become triumph when God is in it. Through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we find forgiveness of sin and a new life that daily includes the sweet and powerful presence of the One who said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Because of His mighty presence, we are not destroyed by circumstances. It’s been well said: What life does to you depends upon what life finds in you.
Check out Romans 8:28 and rejoice in the fact that God is over all and can use the most difficult of circumstances to work His perfect will. Yes, He is in control of all things – even the boll weevil!