9 May 2015
I was born and raised in the country for which I thank God every day. At the time, however, I did not know how good I had it.
I was always hearing how great and wonderful city life was. The school teachers raved about all the excellent entertainment, museums and such in the city. It was so bad I began to feel I had missed out on a lot of things.
I never went to a Broadway play. I never attended one of those highfalutin orchestra concerts. I never even went to a fancy restaurant. I thought I was missing out on the good life.
When I was growing up, we did not have television. Television had come to our neck of the woods, but not everybody could afford a television set. I would go into the small town square where they sold appliances, stand with other people at the window and watch television.
Being from the country at the time seemed to be rather boring and with no future. According to all I heard about city life, it was the life to live. Of course, I did not know any better. I thought everything I heard was true.
That is a problem with us country boys. We cannot figure out why anybody would lie about something. If it is not true, do not lie about it. When people told me how wonderful city life was, I thought they were telling the truth.
I guess it is true what they say. Nobody really appreciates their boyhood until they are 50 years down the road from it. I did not know how good I had it at the time.
When thinking about city life I thought of all the money people were making and all the good times they were having and all the fancy food they were eating. Why, I thought to myself, that must be heaven. I have since had to apologize to heaven.
Not having a television in our home at the time, we did not know about all the bad stuff happening in the cities. The riotings, the murders, the debauchery. All of this was far, far from our experience. When we thought of city life, we thought of the brilliant lights of Broadway and all the good times people were having.
Meanwhile, back in the country, as I was experiencing my boyhood I thought I was missing life. When I got older I realized I was missing out on a lot of things and I am mighty glad that I did miss out on some of the debauchery.
Out in the country, we either raised our own food or we swap something with the neighbor out of his garden. Processed food was something we never even thought of. We ate real food and enjoyed it.
When one neighbor was in trouble, everybody in the neighborhood came together and helped. It was just what we did out in the country. We knew all our neighbors by name and even celebrated their birthdays.
When I felt God was calling me to be a pastor, I thought this was my chance to indulge in city life. I could now live where the lights were the brightest.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you look at it, I never pastored a city church. I lived close to a city at one time, Baltimore. It was then that I realized that city life was just a myth people indulged in to make us country folks feel guilty about the goodness of our life.
I certainly am glad to be a country pastor. I do not need to worry about all the latest technology, fads and trends out in society. I do not have to worry about what celebrities are doing.
I remember out in the country our celebrities. They were all hunters who would regale us with stories of their hunting adventures. We would sit around the stove in a little country store and listen to these hunters tell their stories.
Now as a country pastor, I realize one important thing. Someone put it this way, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” I never really understood that until I got out of the country a little bit.
I visited cities; New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angelesjust to name a few. Looking back, I am so glad I did not grow up in any of those cities.
I remember once walking down a New York City streetand just stopped and looked around me. Everybody was rushing here and there, the noise was deafening, I took a deep breath and the streets stank to high heaven (another apology to heaven).
I am only now beginning to appreciate the great privilege I had growing up in the country. Now that I am a country pastor, I can say this with a great deal of authority, “You can take the country preacher out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the country preacher.”
David appreciated the country life and is reflected in one of his Psalms. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalms 42:1).
Only out of the country can you really appreciate the quietness of a water brook and meditating upon God.
We are in danger of losing our country life and when we do, we will lose our Country.