Ramblings from the Cove...

October 2018

By Lars Gren

It was some years back while I was not living in the South, but I made many a trip to the South. And on one of those occasions I met Bob Penick who was an avid fisherman. In the right season, he would very happily go to the river six out of seven days to drop the hook in. And most of the time he returned with a fair catch for the frying pan. Since I was staying with friends not far from Oklahoma City, and where there were three small lakes to fish in, I invited Bob to come over. We did catch fish but unfortunately on the last try for another, and then climbing off the edge of the pond, Bob slipped and ended up flat on his back in the pond and he got up sputtering a bit, and tried to wipe the mud off his pants and just laughed and said, “Well, not the first time I’ve done that.”

Almost each time Elisabeth and I were out in that area we would meet Bob at his house or someplace for coffee and then drop the hooks in the water. I think my total catch one time was one fish. Bob was a retired schoolteacher and from what I heard, a very good one. And since retirement, he would write little stories about his life called “Love Line” by Bob Penick, and of course in the heading, if you had a copy of it, you would see in the pictured logo a young lad with shorts, a t-shirt, suspenders, a cap, and of course his fishing gear extending over the water waiting for a fish. He used to tell me stories from his teaching days in Texas with elementary students. A recent one that I received struck me in thinking of the importance of our identity and how we see others. This particular one was sent around Father’s Day. I read the following and ended up with tears in my eyes. Now please have a read and see how it strikes you:

Love Line by Bob Penick

Who’s Your Daddy

I’ve told you a lot of stories. Now, with everyone thinking about their Fathers, let’s see what this one does for you.

A while back a professor at a Bible college in Oklahoma and his wife were passing through Gatlinburg, Tennessee on vacation. They stopped at a little local café hoping to enjoy a quiet breakfast together. While waiting for their food, they noticed a friendly fellow with white hair moving from table to table visiting with folks. The professor whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” But, he did.

He asked them where they were from, and they said, “Oklahoma.” With heartfelt sincerity, he said, “Great to have you in Tennessee. What do you do for a living?” The professor replied, “I teach in a seminary.” The old gentleman’s eyes lit up. “Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach. Well I’ve got a story for you.” As the old guy pulled a chair up to the table, the professor groaned quietly, “Great, another preacher’s story.”

With a twinkle in his eye, the old gent started his story. Pointing out to the window, he said “See that mountain over there? At the foot of that mountain, a little boy was born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up because everyone made fun of him and kept asking him, “Who’s your daddy?’ Everywhere he went, at school, the grocery store, the drug store or wherever, people kept asking him, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ He would often hide to avoid having to be hurt by that question. When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to town. The kid always went to church, but he was usually able to slip out without talking to anyone. The preacher knew nothing about the boy except that he always came to church. One day he caught up to the lad, patted his shoulder and asked, ‘Who’s your daddy, son?’ The whole church stopped and listened. He could feel them looking at him and he knew that, if he answered the question everyone had been asking, the truth would be out and he would be more embarrassed. The new preacher sensed the delicacy of the situation and the panic of the boy. “Wait a minute,’ he said loudly so everyone could hear, ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’ He patted the boy on the shoulder and said, ‘Boy you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’ With that the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anyone asked him, ‘Who’s your daddy?’, he would say, ‘I’m a child of God’. Then as the distinguished gentleman rose to leave, he said, “You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything.”

As the man walked away, the professor asked the waitress, “Do you know who that old fellow is?” She grinned and said, “Of course. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s the former governor of Tennessee.”

Don’t you just love inspirational stories like that? They give you a lift when you need one sometime.

I also thought back on my school days and some of the names that were banted around such as “Peewee” who might later have grown into a six-footer. And then there were people because of their weight, who got tagged with something derogatory like “Fatso”, but I don’t think there is a need to bring up a lot from the past. However you may also be able to add to that story. The calling of a name can either build up a person or tear him down. In the end, what would have become of the governor had he not met the preacher who told him that God was his daddy?

God bless y’all and that’s it from the Cove,


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