Diamonds on the Plane
Never did see the movie “Snakes on a Plane.” It was the summer between my Junior and Senior year. This summer job was an interesting one. At the time I lived in Minnesota and attended (and eventually graduated!) from Mound Westonka High School – same city that was home to the Tonka Toys factory. We lived pretty close to Lake Minnetonka, a large and very popular lake west of the Minneapolis area. I really miss it! Anyway…
His name was Kenny Cronstrom – founder of Cronstrom Heating and Air Conditioning, a large industry in the Minneapolis area. Like most people who lived on lake Minnetonka, Kenny was pretty wealthy. He owned about a quarter of a mile of prime lakeshore property with docks for his boats, and large rocks that lined the rest of his shoreline. He paid me pretty good for a high school kid back in 1979. My job? I was his “lawn boy.” On Mondays and Tuesdays I mowed his lawns. It easily took two days using riding lawnmowers, push mowers, and then edging around the trees and quarter-mile of large rocks along the shore. Wednesdays -Fridays was odd jobs, which primarily consisted of cleaning the seaweed off the rocks along his shoreline. This meant I got into the water, turned over each rock, cleaned it with a brush, and threw the seaweed onto the shore to come back and pick it up after it dried that afternoon. You would never think that sunfish are carnivorous aquatic rodents that try to feed on your legs. In packs. It is a strange feeling, especially after watching Jaws! Yes, backbreaking work. But I loved it. Hard work cleanses the soul. I actually rode my 12-speed bike to work each day, around 10 miles or so. Then rode it home again. Loved the workout! It was a time I listened to the Christian radio station (KTIS?) while I cleaned my rocks. I learned and grew a lot that summer as a fairly new Christian. The music was pretty old, but I loved the preacher guys and always looked forward to the dramatized book they featured each afternoon. I still remember some of them like it was yesterday. John Bunyan’s story. Jim Elliot’s story. Just me and the radio and God. What a blessing Christian radio was to me!
But I will never forget this particular Friday. I got paid on Fridays, and I normally found Kenny, probably in his 60s or 70s by this time in his life, in his metal shop “puttsing around.” He had told me that he would teach me how to work with copper tooling and brass tooling when I had some free time. He had jokes. Anyway, this particular Friday he was not in his shop. His vehicles were there, so I approached the house and heard a lot of yelling and screaming. The voice was too high to be Kenny, so I deduced it was his wife. I hesitated to ring the doorbell for my paycheck, but I really needed it this weekend! I rang. A frail and aged and teary faced Mrs. Cronstrom answered the door with the check in her hand. Not wanting to be nosy, but concerned that everything was alright, I asked if she was okay. She immediately went into her tirade about why she was so upset. Ooops! Did I ask for this? Yep! Put your listening hat on!
She proceeded to tell me how they were going down to Florida the next week. Kenny had just bought her a $70,000 diamond ring, BUT he did not want her to wear it on the plane as they were travelling to Florida because if the plane went down, he would be out $70,000! I had to do a double take. Did I hear that correctly? “Mr. Cronstrom is going to be on the plan as well?” I asked.
“Well of course he is!” was her reply.”And he cares more about that _____ ring than he does about ME!”
I had a lot of things going through my mind at the time, but didn’t say any of them. I merely said “I am so sorry Mrs. Cronstrom…” She said something else then handed me my check. I told her thank you and that I was very sorry to bother her. She said something about being a sweet boy and then told me to have a good weekend. As I rode my bike home that afternoon, I did a lot of reflecting.
1 Timothy 6:9-12 says, “…People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.”
I am sad to say I have never had to struggle with the hardship of riches. But if I do, I believe the lessons God will invite me to the table with have taught me well. Here are some lessons I have learned:
- Riches and even your ability to earn them come from God (Deut. 8:14-18)
- Honor God with the first fruits of your earnings. The FIRST thing I do with every check is give to the Lord (Prov. 3:9-10). It is an act of worship.
- Be a blessing to others (Prov 3:27, Zech 8:13).
- God wants more than money, he wants our time and our lives as well (Romans 12:1-2).
I pray you be blessed this day with not only the riches of this world but the riches of His grace!