In my more zany moments, I have been known to do some crazy things. I’m relieved that most of them are not known by most of you. If they were, I sincerely doubt that what little bit of dignified respect I may have earned over the years would remain intact.
Maybe that explains why I had such a struggle with the whole idea of entering the ministry in the first place. I mean this is the one profession least attractive to a guy whose background included absolutely unbelievable practical jokes, tricks played on preachers and teachers (especially very serious ones), hilarious fun in school, and endless hours playing sax in a jazz band with some guys who are probably strung out in the French Quarter today...or maybe they got their lives squared away (in San Quentin) and are now living nice ‘n’ orderly. All I ask is that they don’t squeal on me. My memory is enough to reduce me to putty, like the time I rode a motorcycle down the middle row of my high school English Lit class.
But I suppose that’s the reason I have such trouble to this day with stuffed shirts who have made it to the top and work hard to impress. You know the kind...super-dignified types, smoke blowers, who give off airs, who play roles and drop names and look shocked when even tiny cracks of humanity peek out from under their world of formality. Small-talk people who hobnob with the hotshots and expect special treatment.
Sorry, I just have difficulty wading through all that swamp, especially if cannibalistic pride is on parade. And more often than not it is, isn’t it? In such social settings, I find myself reverting to my younger years and wanting to make crazy faces across the room or set off a firecracker under the coffee table or smash somebody in the face with a cream pie or pass a note that reads “Who really cares?” to the loudmouth bragging about how much he cleared last year after taxes. But then, those things don’t fit the clergy. We’re supposed to calm the waves, not make ‘em, right?
Well, that’s hard to do. And it’s doubly hard if you’ve got a background that’s South Texas brown mud rather than Ivy League blue blood. And if your mom and dad were just plain folks, married during the depression, intent on hard work and honesty and content with little, whose home was full of song and whose hearts were full of love.
Life never got so intense that there wasn’t time to listen or a funny story to enjoy. Can’t remember a day passing when our family didn’t laugh at something, even though our times were torn by international war and periodic personal disagreements. They didn’t do it, but my parents could’ve hung this sign in our place: “Through these halls walk three of the most stubborn teenagers in the nation!” Hard times make for straight talk...and on many occasions I recall being told the importance of standing alone, setting my own agenda, not trying to be something I wasn’t, and above all, walking humbly with my God.
I’m grateful for those reminders; they have made me who I am today. We’ll talk more about pride and humility tomorrow.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.