Jim Johnson – 773 words
I was new to Dallas and had just landed a well-paying job as a casual – unloading semi-trailers. As a casual, I would call into work each evening and if there was enough freight that day, I was given the green light to come in. Being a casual was perfect because I was also doing school. Not a problem to skip a day at the dock because there was always another casual who was eager to work.
The foreman hailed from west Texas. He had a drawl that reached to Lubbock and back. My northern ears had not yet adjusted. On top of that, he typically had a plug of tobacco tucked in his cheek. It was easier to put socks on a rooster than to understand him when he spoke.
My first day, he handed me a clipboard with the number of the truck that I was to unload and then he spoke to me. It sounded like, “slurburshebedee.” I said, “What?” He repeated, “slurburshebedee!” I asked again and evidently crossed a line. There was fire in his eyes and a rivulet of tobaccy juice oozing from the corner of his mouth. I saved myself by saying, “Oh I got it,” as if I understood, and then went to my truck.
This became our ritual. He would speak a couple of words, and I would pretend that I understood. But one day, he came to my truck and wanted to chat. Oh no! He spoke – I tried to decode. When he paused, I figured he had come to the end of a sentence, so I would nod my head yes, or chuckle, or say “I bet.” He could have been telling me that his wife had just died, and I chuckled and said, “I bet.” Two minutes later he was gone. Looked like I pulled it off again.
The next day I had a test at school, so I didn’t call in at work. The day after, I did, and was given the green light. But when I reported to the foreman, there was fire in his eyes again. I got the message this time. That day in the truck, he had asked me to become a regular and work full time. I nodded yes, so he told me to report the next day – which I didn’t, and he was not happy. I kept my job as a casual, but only for a couple weeks more. My loss!
Soooo – what if God had a cheek stuffed with Red Man Chew? What if He spoke so that every one-syllable word had two? What if John 3:16 read as, “slurburshebedee?”
Fortunately for us, God spoke with crystal clarity in His Word. It is so clear that it is to be used as a precision tool, like a lathe, to shape us (2 Tim 3:16-17). Is there anything unclear about the words, “You shall not steal?”
Though clear, we still hear a muddled message. Jesus said of His disciples, “You have ears but are unable to hear.” (Mark 8:18). This is because we allow our preconceptions and self-centered conditions to confuse His message. We want God to say what we want to hear, which keeps us from really hearing what He has said.
The better way is to lay aside our personal baggage, take His Word at face value and respond in an appropriate way.
As a pastor, I found that a sermon on giving was about as welcome as an outhouse breeze. (We say that in Texas!) But I’m not a pastor now and I ain’t got a dog in this fight (we say that too!) So, let me use giving as an example.
God spoke about it in 2 Cor. 9. There He said, “The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. (2 Cor 9:6) NET Bible® His point: The one who generously gives their money toward God’s purposes, will be generously blessed by God (and vice versa)
The truth is clear – but we muddle it up: “That’s not what it means” or “that was a promise given exclusively to the Corinthians” or “I can honor God in other ways” – or whatever.
Not cool. The better way is to lay aside our personal baggage, take His Word at face value and respond in an appropriate way no matter the issue.
It has taken some time, but now, not only do I understand a Texas drawl, I can speak it. Ya’ll hear? But with God, I am still working on listening clearly and responding fully.
And should my beloved former boss be a reader, may I say, “slurburshebedee!”