CUTTING THE APRON STRINGS
Moses E. Lard, the great gospel preacher and proponent of the restoration of apostolic Christianity, was born in abject poverty in Bedford County, Tennessee on October 29, 1818. When he was fourteen years old his parents moved to Missouri. At the age of seventeen, Lard could neither read nor write, but later learned to do so. Because of the family’s poverty, he and his brother were forced to leave home at a tender age to make their own way in the world. As Moses and his brother were leaving, their distressed mother said to them, “My dear boys, I have nothing to give you but my blessing and these two little books.” She then drew from her bosom two small New Testaments, and with tears streaming down her cheeks and her lips quivering, she placed the Testaments in the boys’ hands and watched them walk away. The family was never reunited again. At an extremely young age, Moses E. Lard had to cut the apron strings.
When he was twenty-three years old Moses Lard obeyed the gospel. His conversion to Christ came after reading a copy of Walter Scott’s The Gospel Restored. (For my readers who do not know, this Walter Scott was not the famous Scottish novelist and poet, but a preacher of the ancient gospel and of the principles of the movement to restore original New Testament Christianity.) Later, Lard enrolled in Bethany College and graduated when he was past the age of thirty. He completed the four years of work in three and graduated as valedictorian of his class, all while supporting his family in secular work. He went on to become one of the great preachers in the Lord’s church. His commentary on the book of Romans remains a masterpiece of genuine scholarship.
In the spring of 1955, I graduated from high school at Mars Hill Bible School in Florence, Alabama. A few weeks later, my parents, sister, and brother moved back to northwest Florida. I did not want to return to Florida. I was preaching every Sunday for a good rural church near Florence, working on Fridays and Saturdays at Kinney’s Shoe Store in downtown Florence, and getting ready to enter Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee in September.
Virgil Larimore, in his 70s, youngest son of the great evangelist T. B. Larimore, learned of my desire to remain in Florence. He told my parents that I could live with him at no cost. (Virgil had already outlived two wives, and later outlived a third.) Thus, on a July day in 1955, my father, mother, sister, and brother loaded up the family car, and with a truck loaded with the family’s furniture and belongings, and with me standing by my 1939 Oldsmobile in the front yard of the house where we had lived on Mars Hill Road, we said “good-bye,” and the apron strings were cut! I was seventeen years old.
I did not see my family for the next five months. We wrote letters back and forth. I enjoyed the summer with Virgil Larimore, reading from the books of his famous father (Virgil did not have a television, and my family had not had a television in all my growing up years), helping with various chores (mowing the grass, cutting weeds, painting the barn, going with him to the grist mill, etc.), preaching on Sundays, and working at the shoe store. When September rolled around, I loaded my clothes and books into my car and drove the 100 + miles to Henderson, Tennessee and enrolled in Freed-Hardeman College. Throughout the fall I returned to Florence on the weekends to fill my Sunday preaching appointment. During that fall quarter I remember making one phone call from the men’s dormitory to my parents in Florida.
When the Christmas vacation came, I drove the approximately 350 miles from Henderson, Tennessee to DeFuniak Springs, Florida in my old Olds and saw my family for the first time since we had said goodbye the previous July! It was a happy time for us all! During that Christmas visit I conducted my first gospel meeting. It was with the Liberty Church of Christ in Walton County, Florida. When the meeting closed I was still a few days shy of my 18th birthday!
As I was growing up at home we had a term “suck tom.” It probably was a corruption of “suck thumb.” It was a term we used to describe someone who had to be petted and pampered and babied and coddled. We did not think too highly of “suck toms.” I still don’t, and I taught my boys not to be one. Young people need to cut the apron strings. They need to learn how to be independent of parental care and protection. It is the only way to become mature. It is the only way to see what one is really made of. It is the only way to succeed in this life and in the life to come.
(Note: Following last week’s essay on “Why I Write,” some inquired as to how my books may be obtained. As I explained in the article, I do not handle them myself. Inquires as to their titles, availability, and cost should be directed to Hester Publications / 165 Gibson Drive / Henderson, TN38340 or to shester.)
July 26, 2016
July 31: Sylvia Church of Christ, Dickson, TN