The King of Prussia and a Peanut Butter Sandwich – A Bedtime Story…
We will not hide them from [our] descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done. Psalm 78:4
Book! Book! Tell me a story, Mommy!
Such is the cry of our little ones, and we are only too happy to comply. To snuggle together and travel to storyland …what could be more delightful?
But what tale will we choose? What story will we plant in our child’s heart? What hero will fill their dreams? Will we tell a fairy tale, or a history lesson?
A history lesson?
Yes! Surely, there can be no better story, no better hero than God Himself, His praiseworthy deeds, His power and His providential wonders in the lives of man, all recounted through providential history. It is His story and is as exciting for our little ones as it is for us!
So, the next time the plea for a story is heard, instead of reaching for Robin Hood or Cinderella, consider telling the providential history story of The King of Prussia and the Peanut Butter Sandwich.
It goes something like this….
Long ago, a group of people called the Mennonites lived in Prussia. Their king was Frederick the Great. They called him “the Great” because he conquered all his neighbors and turned Prussia into a mighty nation. But the Mennonites didn¹t think he was so great. He forced every man to fight in his powerful army, and Mennonites don’t believe in fighting wars.
The Mennonites didn’t know what to do. But then they got an invitation from Empress Catherine of Russia to come to the Ukraine in Russia, where she gave them land to start new farms, let them worship as they pleased, and, most importantly, made it so they didn¹t have to fight in the army for 100 years! How kind!
Empress Catherine was kind, but she had a reason for her invitation. She knew the Mennonites were hard workers and good farmers and she wanted them to turn the barren Russian steppes into good farms. However, there was a problem. Although the soil in the Ukraine was good, there wasn¹t much rain. The Mennonites tried and tried but couldn¹t find a crop that survived in such a dry climate. Even when they discovered how to keep some moisture in the ground, plant diseases and bugs killed their whole crop.
What would the Mennonites do? Well, they soon discovered that local farmers were raising a funny kind of wheat they planted in the fall and harvested in the spring. By the time summer came with its droughts and bugs, this “winter wheat” had been safely sent to market! The Mennonites decided to try it too, but wanted to do it better. So they bred seeds into a strong, hard wheat called Turkey Red that made wonderful bread flour. It soon became Russia¹s most important crop!
So, does that mean that the Mennonites lived happily ever after? After all, you would think that Russia would love the Mennonites and do anything to keep such industrious, creative people living there, wouldn’t you? Well, they did for a while, but when those 100 years of not fighting were up, there was a new ruler, Alexander II. And he said that the Mennonites had to fight in his army. Being Mennonites, however, they just couldn’t. So, once again, they had to leave…but where could they go now?
Well, this all happened right when our country was being settled. We were happy to let the Mennonites come here. So, they decided to move to Newton, Kansas. Providentially, this was a perfect place for their new home. The climate and soil were just like the Ukraine, ideal for wheat. And no one must fight in our army if it violates their faith.
The Mennonites arrived here in Kansas in the summer of 1873, carrying their trunks, tools and bags of winter wheat seed. Local farmers thought it was too bad that these new settlers had arrived too late to plant corn, but the Mennonites didn¹t seem bothered. They simply built their farmhouses and then surprised everyone by planting wheat in the fall!
True, their strange wheat grew strong and tall, but everyone thought they would start planting corn again like all the other farmers the next spring. They didn¹t! That summer, a terrible drought came, and one day, something that felt like hail fell out of the sky. It wasn¹t hail; it was something much worse – grasshoppers, millions of them. They ate everything. Everyone was ruined except the Mennonites. Planting in the fall and harvesting in the spring had saved them.
Many farmers gave up and left Kansas, but there were some who who stayed. And, the kind Mennonites offered to give them as many of those Turkey Red wheat seeds as they could spare to get them started again. In the end, Turkey Red Winter Wheat turned out to be such a good crop that within a few years every farmer in the state was rushing to buy seeds.
Today, Kansas is one of the world¹s top wheat producing regions, and America has become the breadbasket of the world, providing the grain for the flour that makes the bread of our peanut butter sandwiches!
The King of Prussia and a Peanut Butter Sandwich? Why not? God tells us to share His Word with our children, to talk about it when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up. What better bedtime story? Or…perhaps in this case..what better story to tell while we are having lunch!