Ate Eight

Proverbs 16:18

When I was 10 years old, my father found himself unemployed. It was a rough time for us, more so than usual. He had resigned as pastor of the church with props on the outer walls. Looking back, I assume he left under duress. Most likely, he had committed some grievous transgression, such as wearing red socks instead of black, or maybe he offended one of the patriarchs of the congregation. Whatever the case, we moved 20 miles to the next town, where my mother had secured a teaching job.

We were living in a two bedroom house that had a basement. My brother and I bunked down there. I thought it a great adventure to live in the basement.  We slept on army cots and shared a “chester drars,” – (translated “chest of drawers.”) In the backyard, there was an old storm cellar, but we were prohibited from going in it because it was full of junk, so of course we did just that as often as we could.

That period of time was when I met “her.” My father found an advertisement in the Baptist Standard for Pethahiah Springs, a church camp just outside of Medina, Texas. It was located on the Medina river and operated by a retired Assembly of God pastor who had a heart for fellow men of the cloth. He would allow pastors and their families to stay in a cabin, without charge, at times when there were no other groups scheduled. All you had to do was provide your own groceries and linens.  It was the perfect opportunity to give the family a break from the cares of life.

When we went, there were four or five other families on the premises. My brother and I were absolutely giddy to have the chance to fish in a real river and to meet new friends, and I did both. The proprietor had an auburn haired fourth grade daughter who made my heart jump.  I had never had a girlfriend, but I had heard it was a worthy endeavor, so I embarked on my maiden voyage.

The second night, I struck up a conversation with this long haired beauty. I think it went something like, “Hi. What’s your name?” She told me, but then I was stumped, so I just stood and looked at her for a while. “Uh…where do you go to school?” Again, she answered, and again I was lost. She sensed my floundering and rescued me by taking the lead, asking me questions, which I would then respond to.

That night, all the residents chipped in for a weenie-roast. If you’ve been keeping up, you know how I love hot dogs. The conversation took a turn in my favor. “How many hot dogs can you eat?” She laughed and said, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe two, if I’m really hungry.”  I knew destiny was there for the taking, so I began to eat hot dogs as she talked. One…two…three…four. I was a man on fire. I had found my way to impress the women folk, and I wasn’t about to back down. Five…six…seven. (How could she resist me now?) After eight hot dogs, I decided she was impressed. I think she even said, “Wow! You’ve had a lot of hot dogs!” As I was pondering an appropriately worded response, it happened – that telling churning in my innermost being. “Um…I’ll be right back.”  Yes, you guessed it. I got back to the cabin bathroom just in time to lose all eight dogs.


Sheepishly, I went back, but I avoided her, trying my best not to divulge what had happened. Even if she had no idea, which she probably did, I was embarrassed, mortified. I was just sick about it. She found me and picked up the conversation again. Fortunately, she continued to overlook my arrogance and subsequent shame. Each night, we walked and talked. I even held her hand once. Because I knew common theology was important for any lasting relationship, I asked my dad how Baptists and Assembly of God differed. Was there enough in common to support an abiding bond? He laughed and assured me there was.

I learned an important lesson. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. He will engineer circumstances to confront our pride, whatever it is based in, and take it down. Those who are wise will take that opportunity to embrace the fall and humbly endure its natural consequences.  He will also give grace in that moment, so he can restore us to favor with himself and those around us.

It was a magical week, and we vowed to write each other every day when we parted. I wrote to her, keeping my promise. I think I received a single letter from her. I knew her heart was mine, though, and she must have been providentially hindered from corresponding with me. My heart was with her too. I will never forget those intimate moments I shared with what’s-her-name.


Published in: on April 30, 2018 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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