I Was Thinking…
In Christopher Ritter’s book entitled Seven Things John Wesley Expected Us to Do for Kids he writes, “In teaching Methodist preachers the spirit in which they needed to do their work with children, John Wesley recalled the long-suffering instructions of his mother. He noted how his own father, frustrated in overhearing his wife’s repetitive lessons asked, “How could you have the patience to tell that blockhead the same thing twenty times over?” Her reply: “If I had told him only nineteen times, I would have wasted all my labor.” I assume the blockhead in question was young John. I’m glad she didn’t give up.” (P. 30)
Have you ever been a ‘blockhead’? I know I have the gene of being a blockhead in my DNA. There are many people who have had patience with me. The times I was obstinate, uncaring, preoccupied, illiterate or just plain rude; there were people who decided I was worth the effort and investment. They stuck with me, even when I had no interest in having anyone stick with me.
I recently was clearing through some old stuff when I ran across a ragged little booklet that was assembled for me when I was 12 years old. My Sunday School teacher was Penny Kilgore…we fondly called her Miss Penny. In that booklet was a dozen or so handwritten pages of what was called ‘Bible Notes’. It was a beautiful summation of the biblical story for a fifth or sixth grader understanding. Folded in the middle of the booklet was a piece of brown construction paper with a magazine photo of a boy in baseball uniform with a baseball bat on his shoulder (I played baseball all through my childhood and youth). Around the picture was these words, “WANTED: To Work for God”.
When I saw this aged and crumbling booklet and this crafted construction paper, I wondered, “was this my first sense of call?” I don’t remember this booklet, nor do I remember this pictured art. What I do remember, however, is Miss Penny. She was gracious, kind, soft-spoken and loving. I remember looking forward to her Sunday School class. I remember feeling that I could tell her anything or do anything and she’d still love me.
I’m certain there must have been Sundays when I was a ‘blockhead’. I know, because I know me, that there were Sundays when my body language was rude and emanated boring radiation. I can’t imagine that there weren’t moments for Miss Penny when she wondered was all her effort for us 5th and 6th graders worth it? Yet Miss Penny stuck with us…never gave up on us…and loved us unconditionally.
I have been reminded that I have been given a great gift. Yet it is a gift that meant to be given away. I have been given the gift of those who were patient with me in my ‘blockheadedness’. Therefore, when a ‘blockhead’ crosses my life’s path…I can do nothing other than do for them what has already been done for me…love them unconditionally and be patient. Help me Lord, I pray!
“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NRSV